Pandora kills its free unlimited mobile listening plan

If you listen to a lot of music on Pandora on your smartphone or tablet, you might be grooving to a lot less music from now on. The company has announced today that it is doing way with the unlimited free mobile listening plan and free users will now be restricted to just 40 hours a month.

Pandora's press release says that their average free user only listens to about 20 hours of music a month on their service and that less than four percent of its customers will be affected by this change.  So why change now? Pandora says:

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.

The change only affects mobile and tablet users. People who listen to Pandora on desktops and laptops will continue to have access to the free unlimited service. If you are one of the four percent who will go over the new 40 hour limit, you will have to pay 99 cents to get unlimited service for the rest of the month. Users also have the choice of paying $36 a year or $3.99 a month for Pandora One, which offers unlimited music with no ads and higher quality audio, among other features.

Source: Pandora | Image via Pandora

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CJ33 said,
how the heck does someone get themselves to listen to music more than 40 hours a month.

I listen to music while at my office, then I listen to music any time I drive, as well as during the 2 hours I'm at the gym.

wixostrix said,
Because you're too cheap to pay for the service you obviously enjoy to use. Smh.

Why pay for Pandora when you can get a better alternative for free?
I'm sure that money could have a better use else where.

tytytucke said,

Why pay for Pandora when you can get a better alternative for free?
I'm sure that money could have a better use else where.

Do you really think those too won't eventually impose limitations?

wixostrix said,

All I'm saying is, if you like something, why not support it?

Geez, I don't know, because part of what he liked was the unlimited part, remove that and a lot of people no longer like it, they aren't friends, it's a business transaction.

wixostrix said,

All I'm saying is, if you like something, why not support it?

I support apps by buying a paid version or dealing with the ads.

I subscribed to Pandora unlimited a couple years back and it has been one of the best and cheapest entertainment investments I've ever made. I can use it at home, in my car, or on my phone or tablet and it's guided me to more new, amazing music than all of my past girlfriends combined.

Dane said,
How will this work? I just won't update the application.

You have an account, and the server knows when it's streaming to an app. It's pretty straight forward.

First of all, there are free alternatives that also support offline functionality (hint: Nokia Music). At the same time though, if you do use Pandora for more than 40 hrs per month, is it that hard to pay $36 per year for it? It seems like you will be getting every cent of your money back with that usage.

Totally agree. Just because these services are free to use doesn't mean there aren't operating costs behind them. People should support the service they like. If you can afford to pay for it, then you should.

There still are radio stations, right? I think I still have my radio DVR in the closet. Raising the royalties for dead artists, which should be free domain anyways, is a scam. Copyright goes way overboard in the US, and is that way to protect a cartoon mouse that was created in 1934.

For some people, when they see there is a cost for an application or web-based service (however minimal the cost may be) it's like that thing is simply not available. Paying 99ยข would be unthinkable.

I don't need more than 40 hours, but I'd get Pandora One if it meant higher quality audio on my phone.... I have no idea what their "High Quality" feature is now but it's probably not very high - if it could give me 256 or 320kbps then I'd love to get it...

Meh. My Note 2 has an FM radio in it, and a storage card that I can put all the music I want on to it. Why waste bandwidth on streaming music?

Pandora was like this to begin with, did it change?

I stopped using it a few years ago, so I don't really know about the changes they've made. Apparently this article says that we have unlimited listening now, gonna have to try it out again. I did pay that $1 twice in the past as I had gotten to a point where I had a very large amount of custom stations and didn't want to bother with account switching (ie. getting around the system) to listen more, especially when I was going through 2-3 accounts in a week. Figured what the hell, only comes out to $12 a year (if paying every month) to listen to a personalized radio station (without ads *cough*).

I used Grooveshark as well, but eventually stopped using them as well because a lot of songs I listened to were removed and/or the quality of songs went down the drain.

To comment on the "how do people listen 40 hours a month?" I can listen to 40 hours in 2 days; it's not hard when you're gaming away pulling 20+ hour streaks.

Work? Pff.

That's bull. I use Pandora skips from Cydia, so maybe the devs will update it to combat this. Time to start finding alternatives, then.

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