On Cheap Asses And Pandora

From the blog of Pandora:

The revised royalties are quite high – higher in fact than any other form of radio. As a consequence, we will have to make an adjustment that will affect about 10% of our users who are our heaviest listeners. Specifically, we are going to begin limiting listening to 40 hours per month on the free version of Pandora. In any given month, a listener who hits this limit can then opt for unlimited listening for the remainder of that month for just $0.99. In essence, we’re asking our heaviest users to put a dollar (well, almost a dollar) in the tip jar in any month in which they listen over 40 hours. We hope this is relatively painless and affordable–the same price as a single song download. (Alternatively, they can upgrade to “Pandora One”, our premium version which offers unlimited monthly listening in addition to its other benefits).

As someone who hopes to one day make a living out of being creative, I tend to side with the people making the content when it comes to issues of compensation. These people need to get paid for what they’ve created just like people who work in any other job deserve to get paid for the job they’ve done. There’s nothing that makes a “creative’s” work less deserving of financial compensation than that of a waiter, an office exec, or a city worker. At the end of the day, we all need to get paid so we can continue to live. In the case of Pandora, they should at least be able to make back some of the ridiculous royalties they have to pay the music industry, right?

Not if you’re a cheap bastard. I can’t count on my hands how many times I’ve heard people state that Pandora charging for extended use is wrong. These people come at it with a sense of entitlement, with the idea that they shouldn’t have to pay to listen to what is essentially “a radio.” When confronted, they backpedal and explain that they’re cheap and can’t afford the fees.

$.99 is hardly expensive in my book. And if you’re a power user, $.99 for the month is ridiculously cheap. Why not pay the small fee and help out a company that provides such an amazing service? Or you know, maybe buy your music for a change?

The big mistake any of us can make is to assume that we deserve ANYTHING for free. These services come to us cheap as a convenience, not as a requirement. These companies certainly aren’t breaking the bank by giving away their content and / or services so we should take a step back and be grateful we only have to pay a dollar for unlimited internet radio.

But…cheap bastards will be cheap bastards.

  • “These people need to get paid for what they’ve created just like people who work in any other job deserve to get paid for the job they’ve done. “
    “The big mistake any of us can make is to assume that we deserve ANYTHING for free.”

    While I agree by and large with what you are saying, these two statements sound almost contradictory. I say almost because while the latter is just an entitlement mindset, the former is based on the idea that if you just create something, you are entitled to payment for it, which ignores the fact that the market determines what you “deserve”. If you create something, and the market determines it isn't of value, then the idea that you deserve something for nothing, no matter how hard you worked on it, is still an entitlement mindset.

    It's subtle, but I think it is just a poor choice of words that lots of people use, not just you. If you build it, people won't necessarily come, yet the way the argument is phrased, it is as if economics and business theory goes out the window for a lot of people all so they can say that others shouldn't illegally obtain media that has a price on it.

  • I'm not sure I see how the two statements contradict. The first suggests that they (pandora) should get compensation for a service that they created that has considerable value to a lot of people who use it. You wouldn't work at your job if you weren't getting paid, correct? To the makers of Pandora, this isn't a hobby, this is a job. They shouldn't have to bite the bullet just so any shmoe can listen to music for free.

    The second statement addresses this idea that a lot of people have that they shouldn't have to pay for services like this. When it comes down to it, all these free services that we use don't HAVE to be free. These companies have to monetize somehow or disappear. By thinking we in fact “deserve” free shit is where the real sin lies.

  • “These people need to get paid for what they’ve created just like people who work in any other job deserve to get paid for the job they’ve done. ”
    “The big mistake any of us can make is to assume that we deserve ANYTHING for free.”

    While I agree by and large with what you are saying, these two statements sound almost contradictory. I say almost because while the latter is just an entitlement mindset, the former is based on the idea that if you just create something, you are entitled to payment for it, which ignores the fact that the market determines what you “deserve”. If you create something, and the market determines it isn’t of value, then the idea that you deserve something for nothing, no matter how hard you worked on it, is still an entitlement mindset.

    It’s subtle, but I think it is just a poor choice of words that lots of people use, not just you. If you build it, people won’t necessarily come, yet the way the argument is phrased, it is as if economics and business theory goes out the window for a lot of people all so they can say that others shouldn’t illegally obtain media that has a price on it.

    • I’m not sure I see how the two statements contradict. The first suggests that they (pandora) should get compensation for a service that they created that has considerable value to a lot of people who use it. You wouldn’t work at your job if you weren’t getting paid, correct? To the makers of Pandora, this isn’t a hobby, this is a job. They shouldn’t have to bite the bullet just so any shmoe can listen to music for free.

      The second statement addresses this idea that a lot of people have that they shouldn’t have to pay for services like this. When it comes down to it, all these free services that we use don’t HAVE to be free. These companies have to monetize somehow or disappear. By thinking we in fact “deserve” free shit is where the real sin lies.

      • Right, but thinking that by making something that you deserve to make money is also a sin. There is a difference between making something of value and accepting that sometimes it won’t sell (“that’s the market for ya!”), and making something of value and whining if it doesn’t sell (“I deserve to make money for what I created”).

        The latter is a sense of entitlement with the nuance that there is something to exchange. That something, however, might not appeal to the market.

        Again, I agree with what you’re saying, by and large, but the wording of that first statement I quoted in the first comment sounds just as much like entitlement to me. No one “deserves” compensation just for having created. You can argue that if someone takes something for free when they shouldn’t that the creator deserves payment, but I wouldn’t accept the argument that existence results in any entitlement to revenue.

        • While I agree with that, I’d have to argue that every service on the web we use is entitled to compensation from it’s users if they so felt inclined to ask. There’s not a single web service out there that isn’t deserving of our money. Pandora, Last.FM, twitter, facebook, google anything, linkedin, livejournal, all these web services have a lot of value to their users and with that I would say that their mere existence DOES merit revenue.

          But yeah, in the meatspace, just existing doesn’t entitle anyone to revenue.

  • Right, but thinking that by making something that you deserve to make money is also a sin. There is a difference between making something of value and accepting that sometimes it won't sell (“that's the market for ya!”), and making something of value and whining if it doesn't sell (“I deserve to make money for what I created”).

    The latter is a sense of entitlement with the nuance that there is something to exchange. That something, however, might not appeal to the market.

    Again, I agree with what you're saying, by and large, but the wording of that first statement I quoted in the first comment sounds just as much like entitlement to me. No one “deserves” compensation just for having created. You can argue that if someone takes something for free when they shouldn't that the creator deserves payment, but I wouldn't accept the argument that existence results in any entitlement to revenue.

  • While I agree with that, I'd have to argue that every service on the web we use is entitled to compensation from it's users if they so felt inclined to ask. There's not a single web service out there that isn't deserving of our money. Pandora, Last.FM, twitter, facebook, google anything, linkedin, livejournal, all these web services have a lot of value to their users and with that I would say that their mere existence DOES merit revenue.

    But yeah, in the meatspace, just existing doesn't entitle anyone to revenue.

  • While I agree with that, I'd have to argue that every service on the web we use is entitled to compensation from it's users if they so felt inclined to ask. There's not a single web service out there that isn't deserving of our money. Pandora, Last.FM, twitter, facebook, google anything, linkedin, livejournal, all these web services have a lot of value to their users and with that I would say that their mere existence DOES merit revenue.

    But yeah, in the meatspace, just existing doesn't entitle anyone to revenue.