This week we will begin communicating directly with a small number of our listeners as we introduce a 40-hour-per-month limit on free mobile listening.

Most of you reading this will never hit the limit. In fact, it will affect less than 4% of our total monthly active listeners. For perspective, the average listener spends approximately 20 hours listening to Pandora across all devices in any given month.

That said, limiting listening is a very unusual thing to do, and very contrary to our mission so we wanted to share a quick explanation. Pandora’s per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, including 9% in 2013 alone and are scheduled to increase an additional 16% over the next two years. After a close look at our overall listening, a 40-hour-per-month mobile listening limit allows us to manage these escalating costs with minimal listener disruption.

For listeners who do hit the limit, we have a variety of options available to keep the music you love flowing. Listen for free for as many hours as desired on desktop and laptop computers; pay $0.99 for unlimited listening for the remainder of that month, or subscribe to Pandora One for unlimited listening and no advertising.

In short, this is an effort to balance the reality of increasing royalty costs with our desire to maximize access to free listening on Pandora. We will be sure to alert any of our listeners that start getting close to the 40 hour limit. As always, your feedback is welcome.

Thanks for listening,
Tim (Founder)


  1. Alan deL
    February 27, 2013 at 2:42pm
    Won't this decrease your advertising revenue by the same percentage that it decreases your royalty costs? Or do you expect that enough of those 4% will pay the $.99 (or switch to Pandora One) that your revenues will increase (or decrease less than your costs)?
  2. Taisha
    February 27, 2013 at 4:39pm
    I guess you have to do what you have to do. Free is always better but it might be worth it.
  3. daisuke
    February 27, 2013 at 5:22pm
    Amazing job Tim! Please lands in Japan as soon as...:)
  4. Rob Ayres
    February 27, 2013 at 6:08pm
    As a Pandora-holic, I can almost guarantee that I am not only in the top 4% of users, but also in the top 2%. I rely on the music genome to make each work-day, work-out and wind-down the best they can be. I am already a subscriber to Pandora One, and I would be more than happy to pay more to ensure that I am covering my fair-share. I have been enjoying Pandora for many years, and while I am happy that there will be competition, there is only one true genome for me!
  5. KB
    February 27, 2013 at 7:22pm
    I personally don't believe you should place limits on where your company vision is headed. I understand profitability, however, at the same time as we are shifting to a mobile nation. Limiting will push a few to competitors, and this could cause a split to spark a new company to innovate and take charge.
    1. Chris
      March 30, 2013 at 11:20am
      I have already done this. I am now also using I Heart Radio which unlike Pandora also lets me listen to broadcast radio stations as well.
      1. Private
        May 18, 2013 at 8:22pm
        Thanks for the suggestion of I Heart Radio. I will be checking it out immediately. Also couldn't agree more about this just opening doors for competition. Pandora was leading the way to a new way to listen to radio. With these limits and forced subscriptions they are completely ruining the whole that whole idea.
  6. Jonathan
    February 27, 2013 at 8:13pm
    Like Rob A., I'm willing to pay more for the already amazing service that is Pandora One. Of all the services out there none compare in content and user experience. This might be a good time to take a page form the old SaaS models, and tier the service pricing. Of course, be sensible, and always do what is right by the "customer". I'm sure you will choose what is best for your loyal customers, paying and gawkers ;) alike.
  7. Kj
    February 28, 2013 at 6:34am
    So limiting usage for the 4% of users this affects will contain costs for the remaining 96% of users it won't affect?
  8. Joe
    February 28, 2013 at 8:03am
    Yo Tim, Great work, Pandora is awesome. I do not like the cursor that guides you through the radio stations on the left side of the screen. There is a lag or slowness to the way it drags down the screen. I can't imagine I'm alone in this complaint. Otherwise the product is solid. Take care. Joe
  9. Druss
    February 28, 2013 at 10:06am
    A Pandora fan from the beginning. I listened a lot for free. Then decided I had mooched enough. $36.00 a year—a deal!
  10. Mike D.
    February 28, 2013 at 11:38am
    Good looks Tim.

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