Pandora introduces 40-hour monthly limit on mobile listening due to rising royalty costs


Popular internet radio service Pandora announced today that it is implementing a new 40-hour-per-month limit on mobile listening. The announcement was made this afternoon via the company’s blog, by founder Tim Westergren.

For most folks, this won’t mean anything. Westergren says that Pandora’s average users spend approximately 20 hours per month listening to Pandora across all devices. But for the 4% or so that go over, you’ll have to start paying up…

From Westergren’s blog post entitled ‘A note to our listeners.’

“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.”

The reason for the new cap? Money, of course. Apparently Pandora’s per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, and continue to rise. The company is hoping this new plan will offset some of those extra costs.

Starting next month, users who hit the new limit will have a few options. One, they can continue to listen to Pandora on a computer. Two, they can pay a one-time $0.99 fee to keep listening on mobile for the remainder that month. Or three, sign up for Pandora One.

Pandora one, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is Pandora’s premium listening service. It’s $3.99 per month, or $36 per year, and it offers users higher quality audio, no advertisements, and other features—similar to that of Spotify or Rdio.