After praising Pandora in my last post, I’ve run across several flies in the ointment, so to speak. First, I was informed that Pandora doesn’t work outside the U.S. Not Pandora’s fault. It has to do with licensing agreements from the record companies. The British service Spotify also does not work in the U.S. for similar reasons. That didn’t piss me off.
What pissed me off was the e-mail I got from Pandora informing me that I was “running out of free listening time.” It turns out that you only get 40 hours of free listening a month (After just a few days I was on hour 34). If you want more, you have to pay for an upgrade at $36 a year. That’s a good deal, really, but it’s the principle of the thing. They tried to trick me into getting hooked on their service and then told me about the catch. They should’ve told me up front. I respect the fact that they have to monetize their service. This just feels dishonest to me. They probably figured they would get me hooked and then I want them so badly I would pay up. That doesn’t work on me. I’m too stubborn. I will avoid things I like just to make a point, or because I’m irritated. I haven’t been in Blockbuster video in years because a clerk pissed me off. It’s just the way I am. Not to mention, I was already putting up with their annoying sound and video ads. Doesn’t that count for anything?
Am I being too hard on Pandora? Maybe. I have a good friend who is a loyal customer. He loves the service so much that he actually bought a standalone Pandora radio to stream music in his home. My friend (who sometimes comments on my posts under the nickname “ceed”) gave me permission to post an exchange we had about the service. He makes some pretty good points about how much more value you can get from the Internet if you’re willing to pay a little. I am still annoyed with Pandora though. I’m not boycotting them, but I am in CD/mp3 mode at the moment.
My first email just said: Bye Bye Pandora. I’m not paying. (Which was harsh. Maybe one day I would be willing to pay, but not right now. I was mad.)
ceed: Ah okay, so here goes:
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, still everyone gets 36 hours free music every month from Pandora. Pandora has more than 20 million users. That would be how many hours of free music? Eh? How many zeros do we need?
We’ve seen it with T61 and now with Pandora. Something’s gotta give. T61 turned into a cheap hooker to get paid. However, I do not think Pandora has since their financial survival plan is much cleaner than the crap T61 pulled. Besides, Pandora cost less than a cent per day! You wear your underwear down for more than that by farting in it! It’s so fuckin cheap! Skip five lunches and there you go!
Over the last few years I’ve decided to pay for things on the Internet I think is worth it. Pandora is one such thing, Yahoo! Mail Plus is another. I also pay for Individual.net Usenet service and a couple of other minor things like domain hosting and such. I will accept to pay for one music service that I like, and even purchased the Livio Pandora Radio for $100 which in my opinion is a steal! It cost about the same as taking the kids to the movies twice and offers far more entertainment and enlightenment than that. The kids are having a blast creating their own after school channel, They are forced to be aware of music they hear and like to be able to create something meaningful to them. That music awareness in the kids is worth far more than a cent a day in my opinion! It’s worth over yonder more!
Oh, and I have begun purchasing mp3′s on Amazon.com if I want something. If I can’t find it there I steal it. I’m feel more guilty when it comes to movies which I steal shamelessly. The only excuse is that I think going to the movies is far too expensive for a family. I also think that the movie industry has to go through the same thing as the music industry. There’s no reason an actor should make millions. Who pays for that movie star shit? The movie goers of course. There’s also an enormous unnecessary administration controlled by unions behind every movie. Screw that too! I’ll pay for movies when they can be downloaded for $9.99 on-line without DRM or any hassle. This Flix thing where you have to send stuff back to get new movies is not for me either. I would lose those DVD’s and end up with no movies. And who uses the postal service anyway these days? Suckers use that crap! I wasted a lot of time the other day trying to find somewhere to mail a letter. Couldn’t and had to go to the post office! Horror! Everything has to come in right here, right at my fingertips through my own home network. That’s the only distribution channel I pay through for everything except food and clothes.
MM: What you’re saying makes a lot of sense. It’s not a bad value. The problem is, I can’t afford it right now, which is when I need it. Also, they didn’t tell me when I started using it, which strikes me as a bit dishonest. I will be back, but now for a while I’m going to listen to what I already paid for. I already spent a fortune on CDs, many of which I never listen to anymore, even though I like them a lot. It’s time to dig some of those out and get back some of my investment.
ceed: You’re right. They want you hooked, so they do not want to give the bad news to your face. If they told up front when you started using it you would have left then. They do not want that! They want to justify value through usage. It’s the same thing software companies do with pre-installed software: They let you use it for free for a month or so, and then they ask you to pay. As with all commercial trickery done by businesses it’s done because it works. Most of us are suckers and they know it.
What I think they should offer is a payment plan where you pay monthly. $3 per month charged is easier to swallow than $36 up front for a lot of people.