The Price of Convenience

Last night I got an email from Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora.  Now, I’m no one special really, it’s just a mass mailing to certain people who use Pandora like me.  Yesterday, Pandora, along with many other streaming music providers, finally signed a royalties agreement with the music industry.  The email was telling me that I am a heavy user, in the top 10% and that they’re capping ad-supported usage to 40 hours a month.  Now, other than lunch and during meetings, I have had Pandora running, so my 40 hours is usually up within two weeks.  Kind of a bummer.  So my alternatives are to either pay micropayments of $.99 to finish out the month or to just be a good girl and subscribe to the service for $39 a year so I can get a cool desktop app with skins and many other features.  Or my other option is to play pandora half of the time and use last.fm for some, maybe throw in some general streaming radio and get caught up on the state of pop music.  That way I get a better mix of music anyway … and I won’t have Jackson Browne and Brad Paisley playing on my Evanescence Radio (yeah, weird, I know, that’s genome gone way wrong).

Interactive websites and sites that stream audio and video aren’t exactly cheap to make or run.  It takes a lot of bandwidth and a good number of programming to get it all put together.  The ad-supported model seems to be failing with rumors of sites like Hulu.com going subscription as well, so the ‘free’ sites are coming and going, as it has been for many years.  We all keep hoping that someone will find a way to keep things truly free, but it never seems to work out that way.  There’s been talk of even news sites having to go subscription.  So I guess we’ll have to wait and see the next evolution of the convenience of the Internet.