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/

861 thoughts on “Pandora One Subscription Changes

  1. Apparently Pandora won’t allow posts that are less than complimentary to their business model (or lack thereof). I think it was the fact that my posts detailed my angst at the possibility of quitting Pandora after a number of years, and the decision I had come to to leave Pandora behind. It’s a shame, really, but I don’t like the deception and the lying on their part. If they’d have been more straight-forward about the need to increase the annual subscription, I’d have been okay. $36 dollars was a bargain, and $48 dollars is still a good deal. I like just about everything about Pandora One’s functionality, other than the same songs tend to repeat over and over again. Please, Jimi Hendrix has a lot of good music besides the songs played ad naueseum on commercial radio; I’m not listening to Pandora to hear the same songs I got burnt out on a long time ago. But other than that, I like following people, seeing what music they listen to, and checking out that music. So long, Pandora. I’ll miss you. Call me if you ever go back to the annual subscription.

    • My wife and I are on this list as well. Subscriptions for both of us have run out. We’ve been listening to Pandora since before payments were even required. Now they want us to pay every month. We made no complaint at all when we started paying for Pandora One every year, but this is getting out of hand.

      We’re not going to be charged every month for something. It doesn’t make sense either. Why wouldn’t you want a year long commitment from your customer?

    • Hate to say it as well but I will also no longer be using Pandora as soon my yearly subscription is up. I will not pay monthly, I like the yearly subscription and I would’ve been just fine paying more to accommodate the price increases they have to deal with. Please email me if you ever decide to go back to offering a yearly subscription option! It was nice while it lasted!

    • Update: I’m as good as my word, and I have not listened to Pandora on any of my devices. In fact, I’ve removed Pandora from most of them. Right now, I’m using Jango, which has no fees whatsoever. For now, anyway. It’s about as close as you can get to Pandora, without being Pandora. There are some functional deficits compared to Pandora, but 99 percent of the time, Jango plays all day long. Once in a while it’ll hiccup and will be playing zydeco (one of my choices) on a new age station, which is weird. The playlist is nowhere near as extensive as Pandora, and when you email suggestions, don’t expect to hear back from them any time soon. You can thumbs up a song, and it asks to confirm, after which it tells you that Jango will play the same or similar songs more often. If you thumbs down the song, it asks you to confirm, and if you do, it bans the song altogether. No middle ground, no ability to move a track you don’t want on one station to a more suitable station. I haven’t heard any verbal ads. All I’ve seen are the occasional popups in Jango on my PC, and a constant Amazon banner that’s not too intrusive on my smart phone. You can’t go backwards to look at a song that’s played, and I haven’t seen any way to follow other people whose music you like, and I do miss that. All and all, though, I like Jango, but I will probably try other services that have been mentioned.

  2. I too am not happy to see the yearly subscription option go away. I guess Pandaora wants to show a very predictable monthly revenue stream. I am not as worried about the cost but like others, I have zero interest in having a recurring $4/month charge on my credit card.

    My solution, which ultimately yields 30% less revenue for Pandora, was to buy a pre-paid iTunes card (instead of the Pandora card I would have purchased) and paid for Pandora via iTunes. Yes, I get a monthly charge from iTunes for Pandora but it is nothing more than iTunes debiting the prepaid amount from my account.

    Bring back the yearly subscription and I’ll switch back from iTunes. I have no issue with paying for Pandora. I use it everyday. Why don’t you want my money in advance?

    I have the same issue with Adobe Creative Cloud (although it is a lot more money). I want to pay for a year up front as part of a budgeting cycle but Adobe makes it very hard to do so. Fortunately you can buy a year long subscription from CDW which ultimately means less money for Adobe.

    • They don’t give a damn…doubt they are even reading these comments. Maybe in a year when they wonder why their subscriber base has dropped 70% they’ll start to care.
      I received my renewal email, and I replied that I would not as long as they are unwilling to keep the yearly sub in place. (and I guess that means I lose the dollar a month discount) and I got the usual canned response:
      “Hi Bill,
      Thanks for writing back and sharing your thoughts. Sorry to hear you feel that way.
      In the end, we hope you stick with us through these changes, but if not, we hope you find the music you love wherever that may be!
      Best,
      Ieanna | Pandora
      Listener Advocate ”

      Six years down the drain.

  3. Add one more.. Really disappointed in price hike with no annual subscription option. been a paying customer for over 3 years now but I will not renew this. Spotify looks like the better choice now, also has ads but at least I can pick the exact song I want to listen too. Thanks for three good years but Boo to the person that came up with this new idea, I hope decision was worth loosing members.

  4. I don’t want to leave Pandora but I need to have a yearly subscription. I do not do monthly. I understand that you may get more advertiser and may not care that all these people are complaining, but loyal customers are like gold. They recruit more loyal customers which is only good for you.

  5. This is garbage. I don’t tolerate any service that demands a monthly ding on my credit card and Pandora is no different. Why the heck can’t I pay for a full year?? Plus you started treating me like a new customer all over again. You gave me a 1 day notice to renew at a special loyalty price. Since I didn’t see my email that day I am SOL. Come on Pandora. I had been a yearly subscriber for three years.

  6. I too opened my Pandora today to find ads on my account. I logged into Pandora and found out I no longer had Pandora One. I was an annual subscriber ($36 per year) and was never told my subscription was ending, or was not being automatically renewed as it had in the past, and was never given the opportunity to even renew at the new much higher $3,99 rate (already a 25% increase to the $3 per month I had been paying on an annual basis). So now I am only offered the $4.99 rate??? That is a 40% increase in what I had been paying up until now. Again I was NEVER sent any emails from Pandora telling me of the price increase or telling me to renew, or that I could have renewed at $3.99.

    Also, dropping the annual subscription option totally, sorry, no deal. I am VERY tired of monthly billings for “subscriptions”. It is not going to happen for me with Pandora, especially with a 40% rate increase from $3.00 per month ($36/yr) to $4.99 and $60 per year.

    What crap customer treatment!!!! You have lost both a paying customer and a listener. I will be switching to Slacker, which is now cheaper and still has a bigger catalog. Not to mention I have the option to cache music on my mobile phone.

    Bye Bye Pandora!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Recurring billing is a unnecessary risk when you can pay for something up front. Email me when the option becomes available. I would even pay a $5 or $10 fee considering that if by chance I did not notice my funds getting low and hit with a $35 overdraft fee for $5.

  8. UGH! My Year just ran out and now I can only do month to month…Really? That’s it no other choice? Please bring back the yearly subscription!! I really love using you over others….Hands are tied so I went ahead and subscription for this month. :/

  9. Another UN-happy customer here. I did not receive the price hike email either. I have been a pandora one customer since the beginning. I renew yearly because, to me, it is convenient and I do like my variety of songs that get played. However, now it is us, the loyal Pandora One customers, that are getting played. No grandfathered in price, no “loyalty” rate, nothing except being charged nearly double for the same thing. Sorry, I refuse to be charged double.

    Wake up Pandora! You will be going the way of XM/Sirius if you don’t not change your policy. Yes, XM/Sirius comes on almost every new vehicle these days but due to their ridiculous pricing and even worse customer service, nobody signs up and pays for it after the introductory period. The result is falling sales, every quarter.

    Another thing, originally a Pandora One account could unlimited skip, could it not? Now only ten skips! I wouldn’t have to skip so much if you could actually keep track and not play the songs I do not like.

    It’s been good but I must now part ways with Pandora one.

  10. Sorry…another loyal fan NOT willing to put up with a monthly subscription charge. My advice…fire the individual or team that decided to eliminate annual subscription option then reinstate the option.

  11. What happened to my option for $3.99 I did not see it got my renewal notice today $4.99 no option for loyalty. Too bad! I liked my Pandora, but we will part company next month. No monthly fees for me. So long Pandora.

  12. I also was very unpleasantly surprised to see that the cost and billing cycle for Pandora One went completely stupid. As a three or four-year subscriber, I expected better than this. I also don’t believe I received a $3.99 per month notice. By the time I went to renew, I saw the huge hike from $36 a year to to $4.99 per month. I’d love to hear the rationale for the monthly billing cycle; it seems woefully inefficient for both the seller and the buyer. I’ll be looking at other options, and if they all suck, I’ll deal with the obnoxious ads…until I can’t stand them anymore. What a colossal disappointment Pandora One has turned out to be.

    • I doubt you DID get a notice as I did not either. Its like when I was at college and the bank was in a trailer but had free checking. After I returned after summer break they had built a new branch. I joked that they would have to start charging to pay for it. Unbeknownst to me they HAD stopped the free checking and claimed they sent out letters. Yeah RIGHT.

  13. No more of my money for you Pandora. Will use Cydia to get pandora one for free from now until you go under from mismanagement. And I care about it as much as you care for your loyal subscribers.

  14. I would have no problem paying the 4.99 per month if we had unlimited dislikes/skips when listening to music and there were no ads. or very few and far in between. So Pandora If you can manage that, sign me up and I guarantee that if you are to implement this, your sales with go through the roof. I will be more than happy to take a discounted price for helping with this breakthrough idea.

    Thank You

  15. I’ve been following this thread since it was originally posted. I have been a paid subscriber for many years and invested a lot of time and effort into making Pandora my best source for music. Am I disappointed? You betcha. The bottom line is this: Pandora does not want any paid subscribers, and they are betting that there is more money in selling advertising than paid subscriptions. Fewer paid subscriptions = more ad listeners and higher increased revenue from selling advertisements. Pandora could care less if loyal listeners are unhappy, in fact that works for them because they WANT paid subscriptions cancelled. It’s not about wanting to keep paid subscriptions at an increased price, This is a deliberate strategy that’s about encouraging people to cancel by making it as unattractive as possible to buy or renew a paid subscription. That’s why Pandora has remained silent and shown NO interest in responding to the posts on this blog. That’s why there are no loyalty rates or notice that subscriptions will lapse. We loyal listeners can express our disappointment as much as we want but Pandora DOES NOT CARE! Time to look at moving on.

  16. Another unhappy customer. You should have left the annual subscription and raised the price a little instead of forcing the month to month charge + 40% rate increase. Time to look at the competition they might get my business now.

  17. I WAS going to take on your really cool yearly service fee and happily enjoy what a close friend showed me to give me some control over my listening preferences. LMAO! ! FORGET THAT! You running off loyal customers? Wonderful way to get great new ones! ! NOT HAPPENING!

  18. I’m with all the other comments here. I think there are probably more cons than pros in ending the annual subscription option particularly for loss of longtime customers. I can understand a price increase, but don’t get rid of an annual payment option. I have enough other recurring monthly bills to add this to the list now too. If you don’t offer that, you don’t have me anymore. To know how long I’ve listened to Pandora, it’s still tied to my now non-existent college email address and I graduated 6 years ago. Come on, offering an annual rate particularly to your long time customers can’t be that hard to accommodate. Not a good business decision from my vantage point.

  19. I have been a annual subscriber and a big supporter of Pandora for more than 4 years, so I have to say that this is really disappointing. and I don’t see any $3.99 per month rate!?

  20. It’s magic! Pandora has managed with one email to convert a loyal four year subscriber into an ex-customer.

    Can’t figure out why this has upset me. Probably because I liked Pandora but the tone of the email — and an ultimatum to switch or else — made me realize how little they value customers. This also started me thinking about alternatives… and reading through the posts I see there are good ones.

  21. They did me one “better.” They lost my annual account before it even expires. I wrote back and forth with an agent there for two days, but now it’s been two days of silence. I give up. I’m writing them off completely. They are clearly not interested in my business.

  22. P.S. Yes, I have been a loyal annual customer/listener. Yes, I noticed I was suddenly getting ads. No, I did not receive any kind of notice about the price going up. Yes, I did go into my account to see if the ex-boyfriend had deleted the account information. The first time I checked, it said I was paid up and needed to do nothing (while still getting ads); I checked again a couple days later and found I was no longer a paid customer and have to start back at zero @ $4.99/month. No loyalty price, no annual subscription option.

    Really? Where’s the logic here? In my company, we are always pushing the auto-pay annual and lifetime options as the best value, builds loyalty yada yada.

    The irony? Thinking the ex-boyfriend was screwing with me, I deleted all his stations … only to discover it’s someone at Pandora doing the screwing.

    Maybe all this will be like the New Coke fiasco: short-lived.
    :-(

  23. I’ve been a Pandora user (and a huge fan) for over a decade. I’ve paid for Pandora One for many years. However, this new hike in subscription fees is simply unacceptable.

    First you started with ads. (I remember a time before there were any ads on Pandora!) And then you created Pandora One (which, while it had a price, also had added benefits). But now you are nearly doubling the subscription cost? If I am going to pay that much, I am going to switch to a provider that is offering me more (like Spotify where I can pick exactly which songs/playlists I want to listen to in addition to radio stations).

    I understand that as the service has become so popular the cost of operations has gone up. But at this point, your loyal subscribers are paying for the expense of the free-loader accounts. And that is just not right. (It’s on par with musicians charging fans twice as much for concerts/albums to compensate for the people who pirate songs.) I understand you have a business to run. You have a bottom line. But you shouldn’t take advantage of your faithful customers (and fans) like this. It’s not good business.

    I am very disappointed. Like so many others, I will be canceling my subscription once it expires in October. I will no longer enthusiastically recommend Pandora to everyone I know, like I once did. Pandora used to be about the music. It used to be about the music lovers. Now I guess it’s all about the money.

  24. Just got notice of the pricing changes and going month to month I will not do. I also gave several yearly subscriptions for gifts and will not be renewing those either since there is no annual subscription. Month to month is ridiculous! I too will be leaving and exploring the many other options, wont miss all the repeating songs anyway.. –Goodbye Pandora

  25. I will never join Pandora One again. I get furious when you cut my music off because I don’t interact with Pandora and I get the notice”Are you still listening,we don’t like playing to an empty room”. What, do I have to work to hear your music. I just as soon listen to iTunes,Spotify or other music providers as they don’t nag me to death. Even on my Satellite subscription you cut me off! I work around my house and don’t always want to sit in front of my device and be a slave to it! Arghhh!

  26. Not sure what happened at renewal time. Like a lot of people here I was surprised by the JUMP to $4.99/month. When I wrote you asking for an explanation I was told that because I had been a member for years I would be offered a loyalty subscription rate of $3.99/month. That never happened, never heard another word. IMO, $60 is unreasonable, its not affordability as much as the principle. A 60% increase year over year is unrealistic. I’m also not a fan of a monthly reminder that I’m paying you so PLEASE give me the option to PAY YOU once a year. $48 dollars is fair, don’t you think? I really do want to be a member again but don’t hold your breath waiting for me to come around on these issues. Thank you for the years of happy listening and so long for now.

  27. I was looking into possibly switching from Slacker, not because I am unhappy but to see if there was a cheaper option. I’ve had some people swear by Pandora so I looked into it. For $4.99/month on Pandora, I would get fewer perks than I have with Slacker at $3.99/month. Slacker gives me unlimited skips and I can cache my stations to my phone so that I’m not constantly using data on my phone. So what am I missing? There has to be something worth paying $4.99! Right?

  28. I have been waiting for a pay increase to subscribe. Got tired of waiting so I am working a second job.
    I’ve been reading the comments on the price increase and monthly from annually. Very disapointed in the increase and monthly charges. Also, I was on the understanding that when I paid for Pandora that the advertising went away. Seems it continues.
    I was going to tell you that I would subscribe if you could make the songs play all the way through. To often, they will play 1/2 to 3/4 way through then stop and go to the next song.
    I.m sorry, but with all the bad things being told here, (monthly instead of yearly, ads still there, limited to 10 skips per hour, songs not playing all the way through and other) I will not subscribe.
    I will continue to listen to the free pandora.

  29. statistics are going to be wrong in this instance. The exec that proposed an increase revenue as people drop and return at a greater expense perhaps hasn’t realized the discomfort every demographic is feeling as idiotic algorithms drone the same-old same-old.
    get smarter Pandora not stupiderm

  30. You’re setting up to fail; statistics are going to be wrong in this instance. The exec that proposed an increase revenue as people drop and return at a greater expense perhaps hasn’t realized the discomfort every demographic is feeling as idiotic algorithms drone the same-old same-old.
    get smarter Pandora not stupider. Sorry.
    Bad business. Good luck with your next career.

  31. I was never given the chance to subscribe at $3.99 so Pandora lies on that one. I have concluded that I can still enjoy Pandora with the ads. So there is $36 YOU lost Pandora. Wonder if you will backtrack like netflix? LOL

  32. Well, thank you Pandora. It was nice being a customer while it lasted. I may still use your free service from time-to-time, but I enjoyed being able to pay annually and not worry about the hassle of a monthly subscription. I would gladly remain a Pandora customer if there was still an annual option. Without that, my music options are now numerous since monthly payments seem to be the norm – no more differentiation as there was before.

  33. I want to unsubscribe to pandora an stop billing. i have cancelled it on my iphone. how do i go about stopping billing. i cannot seem to find anyone who knows and i am frustrated.

  34. I just cancelled my auto-renewing account. Increased cost, annoying billing cycle, stale music library. It was nice while it lasted. Pandora, I’m afraid you opened your own box on this one.

  35. Yet another loyal fan realizing the annoyance of the monthly subscription. Like the others, it’s not so much the money as the annoyance of a monthly subscription. Well, after years of finally getting my stations I play at work to produce a nice variety of work appropriate music w/o cramming the same songs down my throat over and over again. Oh will, I guess I will give iTunes radio a try or perhaps Spotify…So long Pandora.

  36. I think $36 was a magical sweet spot. At $48 I am asking , do I really need it ? At $60 no more interest, I will just turn on the FM radio.

  37. Well I find this whole thing upsetting. It seems ridiculous that these supposed increases in prices should be passed onto the Pandora One users, the people who have been supporting Pandora. As far as I am concerned, we may be a “small percentage” of the users but we should be the VIP customers. Even if you have to increase the prices there is no reason why the annual subscription should be removed. It is offered at a discount because the company is getting all of the revenue at once. I do not want to pay for this each month and be taxed on it each month… It also increases the price by $15 total. I would rather put this money towards another internet music provider like spotify where I can actually choose my music, and where I am not treated like a second class customer for being a “small percentage.” A quick look at the public financial information shows that Pandora is performing extremely well as is, and attempting to grow. Rather than spouting a bunch of crap about expenses maybe you should focus on getting more people to actually pay for their subscriptions or increase the cost of ads. I’m done with Pandora. I don’t need to be giving $50+ of my hard earned money to a corporation that pretends to care about its customers when all they really care about is money.

  38. No annual membership? Is that so I can reconsider my membership every time I see your annoying charge? Well done guys, way to force otherwise loyal customers to check out your many competitors.

    • Here’s a few:
      iTunes
      TuneIn
      iHeartRadio
      Slacker
      Spotify
      Last.fm
      Soma.fm
      and YouTube will be throwing their hat in the ring soon…

  39. I agree with what most people here are saying. I also find myself leaving pandora behind because of the monthly fee. I am sorry but I like to pay for my subscription up front and do not want recurring charges on my account. yes $3.99 is not alot but I do not always have $3.99 in my account. Again I don’t mind paying $48 annually ( I think it is a great deal) but not if it has to be in monthly installments that may end up costing me a lot more if I get an overdraft fee. Sorry Pandora, please feel free to email me when you decide to add the annual option again.

  40. I didn’t get an email regarding the price change. In fact, I paid the 3.99 per month via iTunes for quite a while. It wasn’t until one day I was listening and an ad chimed in. I checked my account and it “had expired”. Now if I want to renew I have to pay 4.99 per month. What’s up with that??? Why not just let the grandfathered customers continue to pay the monthly fee we were supposedly “grandfathered” in to pay? No, instead no email and then an expired subscription. And now if I want to renew, it’s like I’m a new customer. What BS.

  41. I have been a subscriber since 2008 and used to pay $30 per year, then it jumped to $36. No big deal, things go up. Then it goes to $4 per month (with so called loyalty discount). That is a $12 increase. Then I get an email which I just found in my spam folder ( from 3 days ago) saying that my credit card needed updating. So as a good and loyal customer, I went to update the credit car expiration date, but my account is gone and my only option was to sign up again at $5 per month, a $24 increase. Well that is not going to happen. Goodbye Blockbuster, goodbye Pandora.

  42. It’s one thing to raise the prices – I get it. The least you could do is figure out a way to add some functionality like Pandora offline or something like that. It would be a lot easier to swallow I rather than giving something to complain about it would give me something positive to talk about. Your marketing is horrible! This is how you lose fans. Bad strategy!

  43. What annoys me is that I was a subscriber for years and all of a sudden my tablet said something about upgrading which I ignored since I was already a subscriber, and now apparently my subscription isn’t “uninterrupted” anymore and the $3.99 rate doesn’t apply to me. If this hadn’t happened I’d have gladly continued my subscription. As it stands I’ll expect Pandora to fix this and give me the correct rate or I’ll look elsewhere purely because of the annoyance factor.

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