Pandora One Subscription Changes

Over the next couple of months, we will be implementing some changes to our Pandora One subscription plan so that loyal listeners can continue to enjoy a premium, ad-free Pandora experience.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 1.37.00 PMWe’ve been fortunate to be able to offer Pandora One at an affordable price since its debut in 2009 at $36 per year and later with the introduction of a monthly subscription for only $3.99 per month. Over this same period, the costs of delivering this service have grown considerably. For example, the royalty rates Pandora pays to performers via SoundExchange for subscription listening have increased 53% in the last five years and will increase another 9% in 2015.

In order to continue to provide an ad-free listening option, we are implementing some changes to the way we price Pandora One, including a modest price increase for new Pandora One subscriptions:

  • Existing Pandora One monthly subscribers that remain active will not experience a price increase at this time and will continue to pay $3.99 per month.
  • For new subscribers, the subscription price will change to $4.99 per month starting in May.
  • Existing annual subscribers that remain active will migrate to a discounted loyalty price of $3.99 per month at their next renewal period.
  • We are ending the annual subscription option.

Beginning this week, annual subscribers approaching their renewal date will be notified as the update is applied to their subscription. Monthly pricing for new subscribers will take effect in May, allowing time for new subscribers to take advantage of discounted loyalty pricing if they subscribe before then.

Our listeners are our top priority and, while this affects only a small percentage of our listeners (3.3 million subscribers of more than 250 million registered users total), we hope that you understand why we have taken these steps. Our goal is to continue to be your go-to internet radio destination and enable you to hear the music you love wherever and whenever you want.

Pandora

The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

892 thoughts on “Pandora One Subscription Changes

  1. This is not OK. Doing away with the yearly subscription is unacceptable. I actually give this subscription each year to my kids at Christmas and have for multiple years. I will be looking for a service that offers a yearly plan versus the forced month to month. Shame on you for stating this only affects a small percentage of your users. It is the same as saying – “Pandora does not CARE about 3.3 million paying users.” The rate increase makes sense, the removal of the yearly plan is a bad business decision. Looks like you just handed several new accounts to a competitor.

    • I just came back to the site to renew my yearly membership and am very disappointed to find that this is no longer an option. I agree with other posts here, that a 33% increase is unreasonable, and I also do not like the idea of recurring, automatic charges each month. $36 was a price I felt fair for a year of add-free listening. Almost $50 isn’t a cost I will pay for the convenience – nor will I go on a month-to-month plan. I’ll switch services to go ad-free.

      This is a bummer, Pandora. Your post mentions increased royalty costs over the last 5 years. I wonder, though: In that same time period, certainly your number of subscriptions, both paid and unpaid, have also increased dramatically? And following, your leverage to raise prices on advertisers has also increased dramatically? With about 247 million “free” subscriptions, certainly your ad-based revenue has boomed? Why increase prices on “only a small percentage of [your] listeners” (about 3 million in 250 million, in your terms)?

      Bring back the $36 yearly subscription. No more, no less. Do right by your loyal customers – and we’ll do right by you. Otherwise, you can count on word-of-mouth recommendations, social media, and real dollars to switch to a more reasonable service.

      Best Regards.

    • Yep, agreed. Think of your customers not just your desire for a steady stream of monthly dollars coming in. Manage your yearly budget or I predict you will lose customers.

      And what’s up “I’m a subscriber” and all of a sudden I’m being asked to type in my e-mail and password every time I want to listen. Pain in the behind, somebody is overthinking this stuff…… keep it simple $%#@

    • I think this is bad business. I enjoy Pandora, but anything other than a once-a-year subscription is just not going to work for me.

      As others have pointed out, you are opening ourself up to a data breach. You are opening yourself up to a loss of dedicated, annual subscribers. Your price increase, while understandable, far exceeds the “value” with your product.

      You should focus more on your customer base and less on your stock price / Wll Street expectations, etc. Without loyal customers willing to pay a fair price for a product, there will be no Pandora.

  2. Have enjoyed Pandora for the past couple if years. Was definitely worth the $36 a year for the ad free option. Elected not to use iTunes when it was launched despite the lower cost ad free option. I am not opposed to paying more but a 33% increase on tour part with no annual option makes iTunes Radio half the price and they have a substantially larger catalog to boot. The choice to on whether or not to renew Pandora is pretty obvious at this point. Hate to say good bye but it looks like I will.

  3. Pandora would need to make some changes to keep my business:
    * Let me ban “live” versions of songs
    * Let me ban artists I don’t like
    * Let me create stations whose selection criteria are respected, without cross-contamination from other stations
    * Let me specify the degree to which I like or dislike or hate a song, to improve my recommendations
    * Create an algorithm that does not swing wildly between crazy, random juxtaposition of differing styles and the other extreme of the “filter bubble” that plays the same 8 songs by Chicago in a loop.

    If you want me to pay more for Pandora One, it has to suck less.

    Pandora seems like a failed experiment. Unless you want to hear Scorpion on a jazz channel, and George Strait on a Scorpion station, that is. Maybe that’s OK at times. But when it isn’t OK, it is really annoying.

    Hearing all this, Pandora?

  4. Yikes! That’s a big hit on us annual subscribers. Going from $36 to $48 a year doesn’t feel as a discount price…it’s a 33% increase!!!. Several months ago you guys made some changes to the free subscription by removing the monthly time limit; that was IMO the mayor advantage why users made the decision to become paid subscribers (I listen to +100hrs a month). After that change the only tangible advantage of paid-vs-free became the ad-free experience (additional skips and fewer timeouts are overrated); paying ~$50 a year to have ads removed seems a bit overpriced. If anything, I believe this change will result in many Pandora One Annual Subscribers change to the free option, which will end in you guys losing money.

    And @Alyssa, I will share my thought with your Product Team. I do believe Pandora is an awesome service but, as other users have mentioned in the comments, other options have become available that offer very similar features with lower costs. This doesn’t seem like a smart move, at least not to us loyal customers.

    • So agreed this will sadly be the death of Pandora! You have now caused hundreds of thousands of once LOYAL listeners to search for a better alternative , and sorry for Pandora it’s not like it once was Pandora, you DO have competition now ! Pretty sure this a bad business move.

  5. Yikes! That’s a big hit on us annual subscribers. Going from $36 to $48 a year doesn’t feel as a discount price…it’s a 33% increase!!!. Several months ago you guys made some changes to the free subscription by removing the monthly time limit; that was IMO the mayor advantage why users made the decision to become paid subscribers (I listen to +100hrs a month). After that change the only tangible advantage of paid-vs-free became the ad-free experience (additional skips and fewer timeouts are overrated); paying ~$50 a year just to have ads removed seems a bit overpriced. If anything, I believe this change will result in many Pandora One Annual Subscribers like myself change to the free option, which will result in you guys losing money.

    And @Alyssa, I will share my thoughts with your Product Team. Thanks for the link.

  6. Been a subscriber for years, and don’t mind the price increase, but i only pay with the yearly option. I do not want a reoccurring monthly bill. If you don’t offer a yearly option, i will be cancelling my service. When you limit option, you loose customers.

  7. Dear Sir or Madam: I read yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that you will be going to a monthly subscription fee starting sometime later this year. I am a Pandora One annual subscriber and have been one for five years now. I enjoy your service greatly and use it at work to help me concentrate. I am an ‘ideal’ customer for your service as I am a college professor and community leader. I am also not poor. I am also not stupid when it comes to business as I teach entrepreneurial skills, with a heavy emphasis on e-commerce.

    I do not mind paying a one-time annual fee. I would not mind paying a slight price increase this year. Your rates appear to be going from $39.99 annually to $48.00 or thereabouts for long-term subscribers. Frankly, I do not want to pay you a monthly ‘rent’. I do not want you tapping my checking account that often. I don’t want anybody tapping my checking account on an ‘automatic’ basis. There is simply too much opportunity for fraud and misdirection with computer based services. The less contact that is software directed, the better, in my opinion. The recent experience with Target, Inc. and the hack of their customer accounts through automatic billing services is an example.

    If you continue with your monthly subscription plans, I want to inform you that I probably will not be renewing my subscription for next year. I will find another service, and there are choices in the market that match what you currently provide me. I will do this regretfully as I do enjoy your service, as my long-term subscription indicates. However, I will not subject myself to increased risk for financial fraud and misappropriation by committing to a monthly, automatic draft subscription service.

    Finally, please realize that although I may be one of a small handful of customers who is responding to your plans (or is even aware of them), I am probably not alone. Also, in my estimation, your margins are too thin, your customer base is too small, your annual new subscription and renewal rate is too low, and your paid advertising side of the business has too much competition (and it is increasing every month) for you to be able to lose too many customers like myself. Losing 5% of your base of customers like myself would probably be enough to turn you from a barely profitable enterprise to a historical footnote in e-commerce history. Think about it.

    My uncle, who trained me as an auto mechanic when I was a teenager had a saying. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  8. Please bring back the annual subscription with a small saving for the annual customers. The increase is OK but annual is more easy to me.

    • Agreed 100%, plus people are less likely to stop the subscription if it only happens once a year and the credit card companies take a significant chunk to do small transactions. Unless they are expecting another large price increase in the next year it seems to make significantly more sense for everyone involved to allow the annual option.

  9. I too hate the monthly access to my account. We don’t need another credit card / data breach like at Target because you guys aren’t as secure as you think. Plus the 33% increase doesn’t pass the smell test. Are you kidding me? How about something reasonable like 8-10%. Or a rate reduction for long time subscribers especially those willing to pay for a year upfront. Wake up you guys.

  10. I am all for loyalty prices— I would be willing to continue on an annual subscription… not this monthly crud you guys are proposing… $48 for the year? If thats case, give me some more skips… and a yearly payment discount option as incentive… otherwise I will cancel my account and keep going with Amazon… since I already get thier movies as part of thier member program… streaming music is in it too…

  11. I also strongly prefer an annual payment. I’m okay with a price increase, but really don’t want a monthly payment.

    • Wow, you’re willing to pay an extra $70+ just because Spotify will allow annual subscription purchases? (48 for Pandora, 120 for Spotify)

  12. Thinking about signing on to Pandora One but have to agree with the other posts an annual fee is the way I would want to go. Keep it simple and safer with fewer transactions. Debating my decision to sign on because of this monthly thing. Do enjoy the service. Please reconsider

  13. I am so upset about the change to a monthly subscription. I cannot believe you would take away the neatly packaged annual option. It’s sorely disappointing. :-(

  14. Why no annual subscription????? Like the other people, I don’t mind so much the increase, but the monthly payment will definitely make me look around and probably go somewhere else. Too bad.

  15. I’m currently researching Pandora One competitors precisely because of the change from an annual to monthly subscription. The substantial price increase doesn’t help either.

  16. I agree with CATINTP:
    Pandora would need to make some changes to keep my business:
    * Let me ban “live” versions of songs
    * Let me ban artists I don’t like
    * Let me create stations whose selection criteria are respected, without cross-contamination from other stations
    * Let me specify the degree to which I like or dislike or hate a song, to improve my recommendations
    You are driving me to the Music Channels included with my Charter Cable.

  17. The thing is, I don’t mind paying more for Pandora, I like the service and still like it better than iTunes radio, which itself needs some “re-tuning”. I understand costs increase over time, especially in the media business.

    Why can I not just pay my $48 for the year and be done with it??? Mobile phones, internet and pay TV are expensive, thus you pay for them monthly to make it affordable. $48 is a dinner or a trip to the movies; you pay it once and move on.

    Price increase? Understandable. No annual renewal…Really???

  18. Applying both an hefty increase and a monthly hit on your loyal, reliable and annual subscribers, whom have kept you afloat, is a tragic mistake.

    If you go through with this, I will leave. We’ve been with Pandora One for years, but you are not the only game in town anymore.

    I’m starting to build my stations on iTunes Radio tonight.

    • Do it Grass. I already cancelled my auto-renewal, deleted my credit card, and have been using iTunes radio. Already an iTunes Match customer ($25 bucks a year) so its basically the same as Pandora, only basically, free. Why support a company that increases their charge by 33% and then has to lose even more money by having charges every month vrs once a year. (something nobody is talking about… pandora is probably facing MORE charges because of having to have 3 million credit card transactions… Interchange fees… EVERY MONTH vs having them process once a year)

  19. Ridiculous. Let’s raise our rates 33% on the less-than-2% of our registered user base that currently pays for our service. What genius came up with this plan. How about selling more ad space in the form of non-interrupting banners? I will be happy to ignore the banners and continue paying my $36/yr. How about figuring out a way to make more money selling ad space on the “free” version of Pandora? While I’m no big fan of giving Apple any more of my money, I can subscribe to iTunes Match for $25/yr and have all my library and purchased music available as well as their iTunes Radio service. I then remove Pandora from my iPhone, Nook, iPod, PC, etc… and save 30% over what I pay Pandora right now. I think I just talked myself into it. Thanks for making the decision that much easier.

  20. Well, I tried the “interact with this ad and we won’t bother you for 4 hours”. Guess what? Immediately after I finished, I heard a new ad. Then less than an hour later, I heard another ad. Fool me once, shame on me…I won’t be “interacting” with any Pandora ads in the future!

  21. I’m very disappointed to read that you will be eliminating annual subscriptions for Pandora One and moving to a monthly basis only. Not only are you removing the annual option, but you are increasing the cost by 33% by requiring us to move to a $3.99/mo. charge. I understand the rising costs of royalties but to remove the annual option AND require a higher monthly cost is a double whammy that leaves a sour note in the music. Please reconsider. As my annual membership doesn’t renew until January ’15, I will certainly have plenty of time to contemplate this. Thank you.

  22. I vehemently protest an annual increase of 33% for listeners like myself. furthermore I feel that Pandora One needs to keep and reward it’s annual subscribers which is the back bone of your business. And I also want to take this opportunity to complaint about the numerous drops that occur on your station throughout the day. I know it’s on your end because if I go to another genre music is playing, so I have to change my genre to listen to Pandora One. I work remotely and listen 7-8 hours daily. Get your act together or I’m gone after my subscription expires. There are many other music stations out there.

  23. I am not at all happy about the rate increase and losing the annual subscription option. Forcing me into a monthly plan only feels like the first step towards even more rate increases. Compared to Google Music, Pandora feels more limited. But for $36 a year, Pandora was a great second option. However, If I have to choose one it likely wont be Pandora. I hope you can convince me I need to stick around.

  24. Its one thing to raise the rates. Its another to prevent me from paying the fee yearly. Even if there is no discount, the option should still be available.

  25. This is ridiculous. I DO NOT MIND PAYING MORE but you need to keep the option of paying annually. There are times I forget that this payment is coming and may not the money in my account, and if that happens I will get hit with overdraft fees. I know that doesn’t matter to you, but it is a perk of annual payment in that I know it’s paid for a year. If you do this I will cancel and just use iTunes Radio.

  26. I found this workaround posted elsewhere and also got a tip from Pandora support. This worked for me as of 3/24/14. You can “gift” yourself an annual subscription for $36. http://www.pandora.com/one/gift. I’m sure this won’t stick around forever, so take advantage while it is still available…

    • Just gifted myself another year (I expire in June) This will be my last one then I will switch to another. The monthly fee plus the increase is a deal breaker! I dropped Netflix when they jacked their prices up and I will do it with Pandora. Funny, I never missed Netflix afterwards and I doubt I will miss Pandora either!

  27. I do not understand!!!! I paid for your service after enjoying it free for sometime… however as soon as I paid the load time and quality of the connection is VERY POOR. it is like your system is overloaded. I need a fix or my money back!!!!

  28. I understand the need to increase the price of membership. You lost me when you eliminated the annual plan with a small discount. In reviewing other posts here, it appears you’ve lost quite a few other customers as well.

  29. I just cant understand the logic of removing the annual subscription. “Lets give our customers 12 opportunities every year to reassess whether or not they should be a paying subscriber”. So odd.

  30. A 25% price increase matched with cancellation of an annual payment option is unacceptable business practices in this marketplace. I’ve been with Pandora since its inception, met Tim personally in the early days of the town-hall meetings, and I’ve been a very brand-loyal customer for many years. I can understand a price increase given the lack of profitability and squeezing by the music industry, but you have to introduce these increases marginally: 10-15% from year to year maximum. 25% is a tremendous jump, one I could probably forgive if we were able to keep the annual payment option through which I can rely on seasonal gifts to both give and receive subscriptions.

    Meanwhile, Spotify just introduced a price drop for students to $5 per month — only $1 more for a much larger streaming library and personal library integration. I am seriously questioning whether I should stick with Pandora if this is considered to be acceptable fee structuring and business positioning, especially since i had to actually LOOK UP THE FEE INCREASE ONLINE rather than receiving an e-mail alert about it.

  31. @Kerry @Joe @Ira @RSAS @Catintp @Joseph @Robert @Andy @Rick @Rob @Sarah @Sam @Tom @Deborah @Dominika @Gilligan @Leland @Tim @Molly @Jeff @Mary @Don @Mark @Robert @Larry @Tony @John @Wade Thank you for voicing your concerns. We appreciate hearing from each of you. Our Listener Advocates are collecting feedback. Please email them so it can be passed on and considered. http://pdora.co/writeus. -Alyssa

      • Why have a blog that accepts your customers to have the ability to post comments if your “Listener Advocates” are unwilling to heed our voices/comments on your blog. Why are you forcing all of us to have to share our concerns yet again in another place. If you don’t want us voicing our thoughts via a blog and the powers-that-be are not reading our thoughts on this blog, then shut down this blog.

  32. Getting rid of the Annual Subscriptions is a really bad idea. Please reconsider. I have been a Pandora One subscriber for quite a while, but this will likely get me to move to another service.

    Please google “Qwikster” for some info on a recent bad decision made by a popular company against its customers.

  33. I have been a Pandora One subscriber for two years now. This would have been my third year. I do not like this change at all. I realize that the prices need to increase as the price to pay for music increases. I do not think that the yearly option should be removed. It was available before the monthly option was and should continue to be an option, just at an increased price. I will be continuing to pay for my Pandora One subscription until I can find another internet radio that suits my needs. If I can not find another good internet radio that has a reasonable yearly subscribing available, I will eventually be switching back to the free version of Pandora. Ads can’t be that bad.

  34. I’m happy to pay the new subscription price. The service provided by Pandora is fantastic and well worth the price. It’s the only “radio” that I listen to at home or in my car. Thanks Pandora for keeping things affordable. Keep up the great work!

  35. I enjoyed Pandora but will be trying alternatives when my annual subscription ends. I would expect to be grandfathered in or at least cut a better deal than a 33% increase. Oh well, will talk with my $ and hope others follow.

  36. Well this is stupid on Pandora’s part for the yearly sub I use Pandora every morning and night I think I use on a 24-7 basis I love the music is has but if they are going to do this well Im going to start looking into another music streamer and they are going to start losing loyal customers like myself and others well Pandora ya just screwed yourself out of money oh well

  37. I’ve sent an email to the link provided by the Support here, but I wanted comment further.
    The biggest outrage I have with this is what I was not notified. I stumbled upon this blog trying to find out when maintenance would end, and to send an email already, to mention that allowing us to block live versions of songs would be nice. I got NO email or notification about these changes, and I find it exceptionally rude and feel like an unappreciated unvalued customer. I would be nice to be grandfathered in, as the commenter above me said. I’m a young adult just winging my way into the world, and I chose Pandora One just at the beginning of this month, based on the product and price, as my go-to for my silent, graveyard shift desk job. As anyone knows, when you just start making a way for yourself, you’re looking to cut costs in any way. These price changes combined with loss of annual subscription WITH the way we as customers have been treated is unacceptable. I will be moving on when my subscription ends. Until then, you have a disgruntled customer until the beginning of next March.

  38. First Amazon Prime increases, now Pandora One. Agree 100% with the comments above, Pandora One is a great service, at the current subscription prices. Not sure it maintains that same level of bang for my buck at a 33% increase. I won’t even consider renewing my subscription if the yearly option is removed. Another +1 for not wanting my bank account tapped monthly by anyone.

  39. Just to have my voice heard.. I would not go the monthly rate and found I could get the annual rate via a gift. When this yearly option is gone then so will my business. I now purchase two annual subscriptions yearly and enjoy Pandora at $36 yearly.

  40. This is a terrible business decision. Pandora One will now cost between $48-60 per year. Itunes Match is $25, or half the price with no sign of a price increase in sight. There are many better ways to handle this if you were losing money than to simply raise the rates across the board when your competition is cutting their rates.

    I bought a giftcard for myself and never subscribed annually. Sounds like I am not going to qualify for the $4 rate since I don’t get billed automatically.

  41. Pandora: I agree with most of the people on here, if i want to pay you for a whole year and save you 11 transaction fees per year and give you the reassurance that i will be using your service for the next 12 months, then I sorta expect a little kick-back in the way of a few buck discount. I also don’t like having to reconcile more transactions each month than i have to so i am a big fan of “pay it for the year and forget it” been listening to pandora one since say one, and this day is a sad, sad, day.

    To all the people above: saying that you are leaving and going to pay to go ad-free elsewhere… Have you worked out that cost yet? Sure this is pretty hefty hike, but no other service matches (based on your input and tuning of the channel) as well as pandora (BELIEVE me i have tried them ALL). Its the 2nd cheapest unlimited listening service out there (iTunes radio is only $25/yr for ad-free), and all the rest are about $120/yr OR more! So switch if you want, everything is going up people, its just capitalism at its best, money makes money and the people with the money call the shots!

    p.s. do you tweet and send comments to the egg people or the milk people when the price goes up?? (i didn’t think so)

    calm down, and carry on, or switch! :-)

  42. I just typed a whole message and I guess I exceeded so me limit so it totally dumped my comment. Figures. So I’ll keep this short, you have lost me as a customer. The only reason I kept pandora one was it was inexpensive. Spotify premium lets me pick exactly what I want to listen to, with no limited skips or stations suddenly going sideways and playing mostly Beatles music, or any of that other constraining nonsense.

  43. I agree with most everyone on this blog, I can’t believe you are raising the price so high and no annual subscription. You are creating so much more work for your company. I love Pandora, I listen to it at least 100+ hours. Please listen to your long time listeners. We have been loyal to you, through all your changes, now be loyal to us. Rethink this step. I will hate to say good bye, but I will have to if you don’t have annual subscriptions.

  44. I too will be looking for a new service, perhaps Amazon who I already pay a yearly fee to. I agree also with those who want to limit live performances, it just gets the same songs on too often. Give back the annual fee & I will reconsider. I like to pay & forget about it for a year, don’t remind me I’m paying for radio every month.

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