6 Alternatives to Pandora’s 40-Hour Mobile Limit

Pandora Radio recently introduced a 40 hour monthly listening limit on mobile devices due to financial reasons within the industry. For people working 9-5 jobs, this means that the limit could be hit after one week of listening at work! Although Pandora claims many users won’t hit the limit, if Pandora is your main source of music, it is likely that you will. Before Pandora instituted this policy, users could listen to Pandora on any device for as long as they wanted.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pandora, the radio service allows users to pick an artist or genre, and Pandora creates a radio station based on the user’s selection. Although the station has advertisements, users could listen to their station for an unlimited amount of time. Pandora also accommodated users by allowing them to “thumbs up” or “thumb down” a selection, which allowed their “Music Genome Project” to play songs more to the user’s liking. However, due to the new 40 hour limit, Pandora lovers are now looking elsewhere to listen to music as much as they’d like. While Pandora still offers unlimited listening with the the premium ‘Pandora One’ service for $3.99 per month or $36 per year,  you may still be looking for a free service to stream your music.  Below are five alternatives to check out.

1. Spotify – Spotify has revolutionized music streaming. The service allows users to stream any song in their database for an unlimited amount of time. Users can choose the free version, which allows them to use the service from their desktop with advertisements or pay $9.99 for a premium version that can be accessed on other mobile devices with no advertisements. Spotify does not have a listening limit and has additional features that make it an attractive option. The ability to create and share playlists, as long as install add-on applications allows users to totally customize their experience.  

2. Last.FM – Last.FM is also free, and is often underrated in the music world. Last.FM “scrobbles” all of your songs and creates  statistics on your music listening, including most played tracks and artists. Last.FM users can play a “My Neighborhood” radio for free which allows the service to play music similar to music you’ve scrobbled from iTunes, Spotify, etc. This service is free and has advertisements, although a subscription to the site can be purchased for access to more features on the site.

3. Google Music – Google does everything, and music is no exception. Google Music allows you to sync your music library to the cloud and displays your playlists and songs in an interface similar to iTunes. Although there is not an option to play music similar to your own, users still have the luxury of listening to their own music from any location with Internet access.

4. Songza – While Songza does not pick music based on what you like, they do allow you to play music based on how you feel. The music concierge service provides playlists based on the time of day or activities that people are participating in (working out, going to work, hanging out with friends). The playlists are commercial free and can be played for an unlimited amount of time.

5. YouTube “Playlists” – Although not the most practical, YouTube is still an option. YouTube has revolutionized videos on the web. YouTube has introduced a queue which allows users to put together a selection of videos to play one after another. While advertisements vary based on the popularity of a video or a song, users may be able to sequence videos of their favorite songs together in a string. Although this is an different method of putting music together, it will be available to people regardless of their location. Users can create their own playlists or access ones that others have made.

6. 8tracks – 8tracks allows you to combine two different music styles to create an ultimate playlist (study and indie, dubstep and mashups). From your choices, 8tracks will over you different playlists to listen to. Users can either listen to a pre-made playlist or create one of their own. Each playlists contains (you guessed it) at least 8 tracks. 8tracks users can follow accounts that they enjoy, which allows them to connect socially on the site. 

While some of these methods may require a sign-in and some may have more advertisements than others, the above options do not have a listening limit. Pandora’s rule may have lost them a lot of users, and other sites should begin to expect more users. In a technological world where access is unlimited, music should be the same way. 

All of the above mentioned options have both a desktop and mobile version, so you can take your music with you wherever you go. 

Have you changed your Pandora listening habits since they instituted the 40-hour per month rule on mobile?  What’s your favorite alternative?

Anne Marie Suchanek

Hi! I'm Anne Marie, a second year Masters in Information Management student at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. Feel free to chat with me on Twitter @AnneMarieNY

More Posts - Twitter - LinkedIn

  • Ivan Garcia

    Sign my petition to renove the limit on pandora listening if it is already ad supported

    • luis villegas

      I love how you can put up a petition but you cant just pay $4 a month? You probably spend more than that at mcdonalds. Its a FREE SERVICE, what do you expect? This entitlement crap really gets on my nerves.

      • MrNuminix

        Some people don’t have that kind of money to spend off on a ridiculous service such as Pandora. Why would you bother paying for Pandora when you could just use Grooveshark for free and listen to unlimited hours of music. It just doesn’t make sense to me why Pandora would impose a 40 hour limit. Screw that.

        Funny that some of these articles mention that you don’t know what kind of music quality you will get with Grooveshark. All the music that I have added into my playlist sounds great. Use it all the time to listen to music in my car and at work.

        • Anon

          At $4/mo, you could definitely buy a nice car or something. . . in 625 years (assuming cash purchase of a $30,000 car. *Not taking into account 625 years of inflation.). Enjoy your worthwhile car.

        • senselocke

          The reason they introduced the limit is royalties–meaning “people being paid for their work”.

          Some artists don’t have any money, at all. $4 is a pathetically small amount of money. And if you don’t have $4, well, listen to broadcast radio. You’re not entitled to free on-demand music for nothing.

          • MrNuminix

            Wow, I am amazed that somebody is still replying to my comment.

            Anon – Not the point. Pay it towards a bill. Put it in savings for retirement. You know that eventually you could earn interest on that $4/month in the bank. Not like it will be a huge amount, but you could get a bigger and more worthwhile return by investing it. $4/month is a waste. But I guess if you have rich parents or are rich yourself, why bother saving anything?

            senselocke – You know what, I’ll just stick with Grooveshark. I am willing to sacrifice audio quality to not have to be subjected to these “Royalties”.

            You all can keep wasting your money on Pandora. I don’t really care.

          • Dan

            Hah, you plebeians don’t know how to find music without the use of an internet radio.

            For what it’s worth, Pandora is droping the 40-Hour streaming limit on 1 September 2013 for non-subscribing mobile users.

  • Arsen

    You should also inlcude Slacker radio? It is a great alternative to pandora.

  • BuddhaBrian

    You will only hit the limit on mobile devices. People in offices would be able to use the PC to listen to music and not hit the limit. The other pay option in Pandora is 99 cents after you pass the limit on mobile devices to continue to listen to Pandora.

    • Matt

      Many employers do not allow you to use their network for streaming services, either because it chews up bandwidth or because of security issues.

  • Bill

    Most people in an office wouldn’t be able to use pandora, as IT is likely to cut them off to save bandwidth.

    Also, Songza does allow you to choose a genre or even a band to base your playlist upon, not just your mood.

  • Johnny

    The number one suggestion to avoid paying Pandora $3/month for unlimited mobile streaming is to pay Spotify $9.99/month for unlimited streaming? Why not just pay $3 to Pandora?

    • Invictvs

      Yea, that one puzzled me as well.

      • Clint

        I’m willing to bet that she get’s paid per click for that link.

  • Erick

    You should also include Batanga Radio, it’s an awesome alternative for Pandora Radio.

  • CDavis

    This may be a little oldschool, but you could also just listen to the FM Radio Stations in your area. Although they are packed with ads, they are free.

    • Smoothy75

      Except I am a Smooth Jazz lover and Clear Channel basically did away with radio stations that devote music to smooth jazz.

  • Nicole

    All of these services sound the same to me. They play the same music as FM radio and are always interrupting my studying with some commercial. I just found the other day and they are totally free online radio without any ads. It’s perfect music to work to.

    • UbuntuRocks

      I agree, Earbits Is Awesome! No Ads And Unlimited Skips!

      • tere

        I tried earbits on my iphone and it socks slow. Not a lot of variety.

  • Amazon cloud player also lets you store large amounts of music and play it on many devices or desktop at $24 yearly.

  • John

    you’re missing

    • Old User

      Yes!! Grooveshark is great with no ads, and it also has a Radio Broadcast feature to create unique playlists every time!

  • bob


  • Bone

    -_- Legit . Pay 4$ . End of Story .