Pandora 40 Hour Listening Limit

Pandora 40 Hour Listening Limit

I have been using Pandora for quite a while, and have never felt the need to upgrade my account to the Pandora One service.  There has never been a big enough reason to get me to pay the $36/year to upgrade.  I don’t believe I am stingy… I just don’t believe in unnecessary spending.  If you check out the link above, there really aren’t that many advantages to using Pandora One.  The main benefits are higher quality streaming and the removal of ads.  I have never personally had an issue with the audio quality I currently get with the regular service, and I am okay with having to deal with ads if I am not going to pay.  Really, the only reason I have considered upgrading my account is because Pandora has been on the verge of collapse and I figured they could use all the help they could get.  However, more recent news that Pandora will be bringing in $40 million in revenue has suppressed my worries.

More recently,  I have started running into issues because of the new 40 hour listening limit set for regular Pandora users.  This blog post from Pandora explains that while the royalty crisis is now over, a new 40 hour limit for regular subscribers has been set in place.  Or, for the direct explanation given when getting close to the limit:

Pandora Listening Limit
Pandora Listening Limit

I am trying to understand exactly how this works.  Is Pandora really losing money with every single user that isn’t paying for Pandora One?  The highest figures I have seen for how much Pandora pays per song is $0.0019.  If an average song is about 3 minutes long, meaning I will listen to about 20 songs every hour – then I will have listened to a total of 800 songs in a month before my account becomes restricted.  This means that using the steepest figures, my cost to Pandora as a user every month would be $1.52.  I understand that this is purely the cost of royalties and doesn’t encompass the other costs associated with Pandora on a month to month basis, but it is still apparent to me that the royalty fees aren’t as much of an issue as Pandora may make them seem.

At this point it comes down to how much Pandora makes off of ad revenue – specifically the ads that are presented to me, to make things a little simpler.  I get an audio/video ad roughly every 5-10 songs while listening, as well as an ad when changing stations.  Based on the previous figure of 800 songs per month, this means that I will see roughly 120 ads during the month (and this doesn’t even cover the constantly change visual ads surrounding the player).  In order to cover the cost of the songs I get to listen to that month, Pandora would need to make roughly $0.01266 per ad view.  If Pandora is making less than this off of their ads… then yes, they are going to have problems – although there are at least a few other good revenue streams for Pandora from their non-subscription users.

So what is the point of all this talk?  I need an easy way to continue listening to music after that 40 hour limit hits – hopefully a way that allows me to keep my stations as well as one in which I don’t have to pay.  In my research I have come across ways around the 40 hour limit that involve clearing cookies, but based on reviews it seems that these methods are not always that promising.  My method may require a little more setup, but definitely works – just create another account!  For those readers with morals holding them back,  I was unable to find anything limiting users to more than one account while looking through the Terms of Use for Pandora.  Another thing that makes this method so great, is that Pandora already has built-in functionality to help you share your stations to your new account.  Let’s go over how to set this up:

  1. First, log out and create a second account.  After that account is set up, log back in to your original account.
  2. Second, go to the options area of each account and select “Share this Station With a Friend”.

    Select Share this Station With a Friend
    Select Share this Station With a Friend
  3. Next, enter in the email address tied to the new account and click send.

    Enter the email address of the new account.
    Enter the email address of the new account.
  4. Last, accept all the new stations in the new account.

At this point you are ready to go.  I normally listen to my first account for most of the month, and then switch over to the second account when I reach the limit.  Next month, I start with my original account again.  I am curious to see where Pandora goes with its “Pandora One” service, but for now… this seems to be the best method for me.  Let me know how it goes for you!

24 thoughts on “Pandora 40 Hour Listening Limit

  1. Hi. Creating a second account does not work anymore. Pandora tracks the computer you’re using so if you create a second account it must be used on another computer.

  2. @Anonymous:

    Thanks for the heads up. As I am approaching the 40 hour limit this month myself, I will test this out to see how Pandora is tracking the computer you’re using and hopefully find a way around it. I will toss another post up with the results.


  3. Pandora 40 hours limit is lame…and ads are getting more and more invasive
    I’ve been using
    for a little bit….close to none ads, takes longer to time out.
    Way better 🙂

  4. “Hi. Creating a second account does not work anymore. Pandora tracks the computer you’re using so if you create a second account it must be used on another computer.”

    This month I stopped listening to the first account around 38 hours and moved on to the second account after sharing a few more stations. I had no issues listening to the second account for many hours. I would be interested to hear more from people running into issues creating/using a second account on the same computer!

  5. I have deleted all of my pandora cookies and still when I go to the log in page the only option is login or forgot password

  6. $3 a month is well worth it for this service, especially to go add free and not have to worry about weird ways around the restriction.

    I love Pandora One.

    Plus a company like Pandora that has made such a good product (and lost money on it for so many years) deserves to make a profit for their labor.

  7. I agree with Jacob H, $3 is a ludicrously low figure, and well worth it for me to not have to listen to ads nor have to maintain multiple accounts or any other sort of trickery. In fact, I just recently bought a subscription for my girlfriend to help get her around the monthly limit.

    Furthermore, complaining about only getting 40 hours/month is absurd because, well, the service is free. Before the limit was in effect, let’s say the average user listened to 50 hours per month. Pandora has 35,000,000 users as of late 2009 (and steadily growing), let’s say that only 25,000,000 of them are active. Pandora’s cost per month in royalty fees has now gone up to $47.5 million per month. Now, add in the cost of bandwidth, new servers and parts, labor, the salaries of pandora employees, and various other corporate costs, and you’re more than likely looking at costs in excess of $50 million per month.

    Now let’s flip back to advertising. If Pandora is getting paid per click, then 0.01266 cents per click is probably unreasonably low, but even if it were 10 time that the click-through rate is always unbelievably low itself. In all likelihood, they are getting paid per impression (and click too, but that’s a whole new can of worms), which can be as low (and sometimes even lower) as one cent per; however, impressions work on a sliding scale based on unique visitors/day, so even if you see the same ad four times, pandora did not receive 4x the impression revenue.

    The audio ads are probably the best moneymakers, but you’re still talking about an extremely low amount of money.

    Remember our figure of $50m in monthly costs? If the same number of users would agree to pay the ludicrous, outrageous sum of just $3 per month, pandoras revenue would be $75m per month; covers cost and provides a healthy margin with which to expand services and maintain equipment.

    Of course, these are all figures I’ve just made up, but you’ve seen my methodology and it’s a reasonable scenario. Stop complaining about a service that’s free; if you don’t like it, take your no money and go elsewhere. I hate to sound overly critical or harsh, but it’s like complaining that the free car you won isn’t your favorite model, or doesn’t have as much horsepower as you like. It’s free, get over it.

  8. You know, I was never complaining about the free service. I even said “I have never personally had an issue with the audio quality I currently get with the regular service, and I am okay with having to deal with ads if I am not going to pay.” I was simply providing a review on the advantages/disadvantages of upgrading to the $36/year service.

    It is honestly shocking to me that Pandora is not able to make at least $3/month off of me through their many forms of ads. I understand that impressions pay out at a VERY low rate, and clicks are only a little higher, the audio ads probably above the clicks, and then the video ads probably paying the highest. It still seems that they should be able to make $3 during the 40 hours I spend during the month using their service.

    The point though, is that I have no reason to upgrade to the Pandora One service. Pandora does not provide anything through their for-fee service that is worth the fee. It more so concerns me that they are not able to stay profitable during their free service, such that they have to limit the amount of time each user can use the service. Maybe I should click on more ads :-\.

  9. Apparently you can also pay .99 to finish out the calendar month – not 30 days, just till the end of the current month. It doesn’t get rid of ads or anything, just lets you keep listening past 40 hours.

    It wouldn’t be worth it if I hit 40 hours on day 21 of the month or something, but if you were a user who listened all day long at work and hit your 40 hours after only a week or so and didn’t mind the ads – .99 a month is still cheaper than $36 a year.

  10. Just checked today after running out of the 40 hours. My screen only has an “I forgot my password” link. I tried logging in and out several times, there is no link to create an account. Tried this both before and after deleting all cookies/history (yes even making sure i didnt keep the “save favorite websites” cookies checked).

  11. 3 dollars a month is too much for so many cheap F*&%s… you guys need to get a life… wait, make that get a job.

  12. Aren’t their ads paying enough for everyone’s enjoyment? Perhaps Pandora needs to go back to the bargaining table and rethink their lame strategy. If you’re going to offer people free music, don’t give a hand out then take it away. That’s something our mothers told us when we were 5 years old.

  13. I hit my cap after just a few days, but i found that making a new account and running it in Firefox’s “Private Browsing” feature blocks all cookies and general communication with various settings folders on my pc so it makes it so you can bypass the 40hour cap

  14. thanks for the Private Browsing tip – it works (in IE as well)!! I do find that Pandora has a much better selection than Last.FM. I use Last.FM via Xbox live streaming all the time & when I run out of time here (before I found this) and i constantly have to forward to another song because the station goes all whacko and obscure/notthatgreat bands are suddenly screaming in my ear. I once complained publicly (on facebook) about Pandora and its 40 hr limit. And now I take it back. Even though I found the hack, I’m seriously considering paying for the ad-free subscription – awesome for background music not to hear ads.
    thanks again for the easy fix!!!

  15. Use Inprivate browsing from IE sand it works as of 3/22/11…takes 2 mins max.

    Kinda sucks bc I love google’s bvrowser , but whatevrr.

  16. The private browsing was a good idea…it also works if you open up an “incognito window” on google chrome as well.

  17. Thanks a lot for the Private Browsing tip!!!
    It does work!!! woohoo! I was about to pay 36 for it ;P I am really addicted to pandora now

  18. Does this 40 Hour limit also apply to mobile devices? I first heard about it today, and I listen on my Droid 2 for up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week at work. That’s 40 hours in less than a week and I’ve never been cut off.

  19. People like you are he reason pandora is collapsing, think for a moment that you obviously enjoy this service than why not pay a nominal fee? The artist who made that song which you enjoy so much did not do it with no hopes ofnrecouping his time/financial investment. All you are doing is causing the collapse of on,one music you cheapass.

  20. Well then it is unfortunate for those artists that Pandora didn’t create a better business model. Yes, obviously there is the option of paying a nominal fee – but there is no reason to. I’ll just use Spotify.

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