Pandora Ads on Sonos NOW... WTF??

  • 10 November 2010
  • 81 replies
  • 29999 views

Userlevel 6
Badge +3
Pandora just fed me a GLADE holiday scents ad right in the middle of two songs. I've never hear this prior and want to know who at Sonos and or Pandora decided to start forcing us to put up with LAME advertisements when for years it wasn't foisted on us. Yes every company wants to be profitable, but it would have been nice if Pandora or Sonos would have given us some practical notice before they changed their services.

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

81 replies

I think that is not a topic for Sonos. Complain to Pandora if you don't like the way it does its business.
Userlevel 6
Badge +3
Thanks Avee, but one of the reasons I purchased this system was b/c the Sonos sales staff assured me that with Sonos, Pandora music stations were WITHOUT commercial interruption. Suddenly they are not. So I've got to think that someone at Sonos' management team was aware of this change at some point. It degrades the VALUE of this music system and whether you approve of it or not, Sonos and Pandora are business partners in the streaming and delivery music business.
Therefore I strongly believe it IS a topic for the Sonos Forum. Best.
I think you are overstretching it a bit. Sonos sales and support staff certainly won't get advance updates on Pandora business plans for the future. Or did they tell you it would stay ad-free for years to come? I think a premium membership removes the ads, they need to make money somehow I would think.
one of the reasons I purchased this system was b/c the Sonos sales staff assured me that with Sonos, Pandora music stations were WITHOUT commercial interruption.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora_Radio: "The service has two subscription plans: a free subscription supported by advertisements, and a fee-based subscription without ads."

I can't see how Sonos could have guaranteed that the free service was ad-free. There's no such thing as a free lunch. What service are you actually using?
Userlevel 2
Sucks to have the adds now.... lots of people got it for the no ads features..... me included....
LAME
I don't recall anyone promising that Pandora was or would remain ad free forever. Pandora has always been a fee based service. The fees are very low. Eventually, Pandora started offering an advertisement supported service in addition to the fee based service. I think that some early investors were willing to support the company while it built a "free" user base that was large enough to attract advertisers. Initially, there were no ads because advertisers will not pay to reach a non existent audience. I think that the "free" users should show some courtesy to the investors who have been paying the expenses out of their pockets.

If you pay attention, you can observe a similar cycle as new terrestrial radio stations come on the air. They will be virtually ad free for many weeks while they build their audience and advertising base. If the audience and funding base do not develop, the station will change hands or go silent or both.

The Internet attracts some curious business models. I can understand working without salary while building a dream project, but few of us can continue this indefinitely. Even if a few could operate salary free for an extended period, there are per user per minute fees for streaming server operation. As the service grows in popularity, these fees mount. Unless supported by a charity the "free" business model crashes at some point.
Userlevel 3
Badge +4
So since Pandora came available for Sonos i have been using it. To this date, without commercials. suddenly tonight i got the commercials every few mins....what changed???? ugggg?......
Userlevel 2
As a Sonos Dealer, it would have been nice to know that the contract between Sonos and Pandora was expiring soon. I feel like a complete idiot telling my potential customers that is is commericial free because of the unique contract between Sonos and Pandora. I do understand that Pandora needs to make money and that Sonos can not force Pandora to keep the free and ad free service. A little notice might be nice. I have not listened to Pandora in a week or so and just told a customer that Sonos offered Pandora commerical free. Don't I feel like a jerk now.
... it would have been nice to know that the contract between Sonos and Pandora was expiring soon. ...

I'm not on the board of either company. To my knowledge there never was a "contract". Both companies realized that there could be a synergistic relationship. Together, they worked out a successful interface. Both companies have built onto their technology base to expand their respective markets. Pandora is showing up on numerous hardware devices (TV's, Blu-Ray, settop boxes, etc.) and SONOS is adding more and more services. Both companies have benefited from the relationship.

When originally introduced on the SONOS system, Pandora offered a generous free trial period, then required an inexpensive subscription. Later, Pandora introduced an advertising supported service and initially there were no ads. Now that the ads are arriving, the "free" users are upset.
I feel like a complete idiot telling my potential customers that is is commericial free because of the unique contract between Sonos and Pandora.
I have never been aware of such a thing. I am on the same page as Buzz: Sonos provides the interface, and Pandora plays what it pleases,on its own terms.
Userlevel 6
Badge +3
Yes it's reasonable to for companies to want to make a profit to stay in business. Where Sonos dropped the ball is by not informing its loyal customers of the change in value of it's partnered streaming music services. I simple email or posting on the site could have prevented some of nasty surprises many fellow Pandora-on-Sonos have felt when STUPID Glade Scent ads pop up in the middle of steaming music sets. And if this is a big surprise to the Sonos management then shame on both companies! Either way this move has degraded the value of one of the most popular Sonos streaming music services.
From the Pandora Terms of use:

13.2 Pandora or its business partners may present advertisements or promotional materials via the Pandora Services.

I'm not sure about other users, but I always read the terms of use. And, if I cannot accept the terms, I will not use the product. In one case I asked for and received a full refund from a vendor with, in my opinion, a rather offensive shrink wrap license. I'm not sure that this guy fully understood his own agreement. Probably a lawyer friend told him, "use this agreement to protect yourself." Had I been able to read the agreement prior to purchase, we would not have needed to have the discussion because I would have silently opted out.
I guess it is undisputed that Pandora is a business that can provide its service in its own manner. Where opinions vary, is whether Sonos or people who sell Sonos "promised" an ad-free service.

Especially the vendor above telling about a special agreement being in place between Sonos and Pandora about Sonos being ad free puzzles me, as I have never been aware of such a thing.

One thing that might have been true is a disparity between the pandora web service and the Sonos service with regard to ads. Maybe they were slow to implement the ads on Sonos, since it runs off a different server.

Anyway, if you like Pandora, it should be worth the $36 per year. I like last.fm better anyway 😉
Userlevel 2
Whether or not it is in the "contract" might not be the problem. My Sonos rep, a firm in Florida, told me in his sales pitch that because Sonos was either the first or one of the first companies to offer Pandora that there was a unique "contract" between the two companies.

So. Let's say that none of this has ever existed, meaning the contract. I have tested this product over a long period of time, as most of my customers would like me to, and report to them the pros and cons of the Sonos system versus other items such as Apple TV, squeeze boxes, etc. In other words, know the product that I am selling. Again, what an idiot I feel like reporting to them that Sonos is the only product I have tested that streams Pandora commercial free with no extra fees.

So between my rep telling me and my personal/professional testing and demonstrating, I feel that a heads up may have been nice. $36 a year for Pandora is a steal. Again, a heads up would have been nice.
kensheaffer,

I think that you should take this issue to your rep. If nothing else, it will prevent further misunderstandings. I don't think that SONOS or Pandora should be expected to track misunderstandings in the field, but they probably would appreciate a heads up. If the misunderstanding is wide spread, a courtesy corporate response by SONOS and/or Pandora might be warranted.

To my knowledge, this is the only forum thread that mentions the misunderstanding.

I don't know anything about your relationship with your customers. Perhaps an email to your SONOS customers would be a good idea. It's your call.
I had heard no such contract, my "rep" if you can call him that at Tweeter WAY back in the day, while VERY helpful in other areas, incorrectly (yay!) told me I would be required to pay for Pandora. Either way, for 3 years now I've enjoyed Pandora on Sonos without paying anything and without hearing any ads (actually, that's not true..there was a very very short time perhaps a year or so ago where the same nike shox ad came on like every 10th song...very odd and fortunately very short lived). I've always wondered how in the world they're making money off of me. Sure I occasionally "tag" artists and go purchase their music but not often. Sure I occasionally listen through the web app with ads at work but not often. Either way, I'm not surprised they finally started playing ads. What i DO hope is that I can go back to paying the annual fee (which is INCREDIBLY low) and go back to getting no ads. Totally worth it.
Userlevel 2
It was good while it lasted, but I knew that it would not. I believe that we have also benefited from longer timeouts and no monthly caps. Anybody notice any other changes? Looks like it is time to get the paid subscription. But it is a great deal for a small cost!
It was good while it lasted, but I knew that it would not. I believe that we have also benefited from longer timeouts and no monthly caps. Anybody notice any other changes? Looks like it is time to get the paid subscription. But it is a great deal for a small cost!

Yeah, the only problem with a great deal paid subscription is your just loosing the ads and gaining a couple of other small features, nothing else. Had a good look at the SONOS forums and found out the higher quality 192kbs music is not available on the SONOS player, just the web. (only on the computer). Although SONOS uses 128kbs opposed to 64kbs on a computer. Still would be nice to have 192kbs. What good is that when I'm pumping the SONOS through my $10,000 stereo opposed to a computer with computer speakers?
Userlevel 2
Am I to understand that this thread has come about as a result of people getting a 3 year freebie and then having to stress about paying $36 a year for the service? Seriously?!?

If OP based a decision to purchase a multi-hundred dollar wireless streaming package soley on an ad-free streaming service and is then stressing to have to pay $36 a year, I am truly lost for words.

Well I am not but I can't post them here 🙂
I'm with BA... To me, Sonos is an MP3/FLAC streaming device primarily, and an Internet-based music device secondarily, so all of those other services, like Pandora and Sirius are an added bonus. I have a Sirius subscription, and have absolutely no problem forking over an additional $36 per year ($3 per month) for the high-quality stream.

The OPs sales rep may have told her Pandora was commercial free (which kind of surprises me because it always WAS commercial free, so why would it become part of a discussion?)

Regardless... Sonos provides the content... with no warranties or guarantees... The user, solely by themselves, are responsible for the changes to it. Not sure how Sonos can be even remotely be held responsible for something like this.

Regardless... Sonos provides the content... with no warranties or guarantees... The user, solely by themselves, are responsible for the changes to it. Not sure how Sonos can be even remotely be held responsible for something like this.


The problem is that some people seem to believe that as Sonos advertise capability to access these services, that Sonos are wholly and in perpetuity responsible for these services and all dependent capabilities (such as the Internet or their personal home network) working perfectly and flawlessly at all times and to their particular satisfaction. In the case of free services, this includes that they remain free of charge and free of adverts.

Luckily these people are few and far between. Unfortunately they make a fuss inversely proportional to their IQ.

;)

Cheers,

Keith
Userlevel 2
I'm with BA... To me, Sonos is an MP3/FLAC streaming device primarily, and an Internet-based music device secondarily, so all of those other services, like Pandora and Sirius are an added bonus.

This is absolutely not true, although it may have been true at one time. I have 3 zones and 0 interest in buying (or pirating) mp3s/flacs, ripping, indexing, and storing on NAS. I just want to turn my ZP and play music on Pandora, Rhapsody, and Sirius. There are a lot of ways to stream Internet music services, but Sonos is by far the best product in terms of reliability and sound quality that I have used for online music.

I agree that Sonos is not responsible for the performance and policies of the Internet services they provide. They should just do their best to pick the best business partners that provide the best user experience on Sonos. I have NO complaints about the 3 services that I use.

On the Pandora issue, I run it for several hours every day, and I have yet to hear a single advertisement. I hear a lot of ads on Pandora through my iPod Touch, Sony Bluray, and Tivo. If I started hearing them on Pandora, I would upgrade my Pandora account. Yes, $36/year is a great deal!
This is absolutely not true, although it may have been true at one time. I have 3 zones and 0 interest in buying (or pirating) mp3s/flacs, ripping, indexing, and storing on NAS. I just want to turn my ZP and play music on Pandora, Rhapsody, and Sirius. There are a lot of ways to stream Internet music services, but Sonos is by far the best product in terms of reliability and sound quality that I have used for online music.

Let me clarify... What you wrote is what YOU purchased and use the system for. What I stated was that Sonos was primarily an MP3 streaming device. Everything else over the years has been a bonus.
This is absolutely not true, although it may have been true at one time.

I agree. One of the key capabilities of Sonos is the ability to use online services.

They should just do their best to pick the best business partners that provide the best user experience on Sonos.


The problem here is that there is very little choice, and it's a bit of a cut-throat market with very low margins. If you asked the market at large who are the market leaders in online music services, Napster, Rhapsody and Spotify would be at or near the top of many people's lists. For many people these are the only real choice they have(and not just on Sonos). All of these services have suffered service problems at one point or another. The best that Sonos can do, IMO, is to integrate as many of these services as is sensible and let the users vote with their wallets.

One they have integrated a services into the Sonos platform, there's absolutely nothing they can do to guarantee the facilities or quality of that service in the future. It would be nice if this was different, but this is a fundamental characteristic of Internet based services. The only influence you have on this, as a consumer, is whether you use these services or not.

Ultimately, what Sonos offers is choice. You have a choice of some of the leading brands of music steraming services in the world, as well as thousands of Internet radio stations from all over the world, and compatibility with your local music library almost independently of which format you chose to store it in.

Are there deficiencies in all of this? Of course! Are these deficiencies specific to Sonos. Absolutely not. They are deficiencies with the whole Internet service model and they affect every music streaming service and every vendor of streaming hardware and/or software.

If someone's expectations are that everything will always work perfectly, these expectations are unrealistic for Internet driven services, and maybe these people shouldn't use these services. In this case there's still a role for Sonos.

In this case, this thread was started by someone with the expectation that a specific music service would not change it's revenue model, and had a bit of rant when they did. That's fine as long as they realise that their contract for Pandora service is with Pandora, and they always have a choice whether to use them or not.

Cheers,

Keith
Userlevel 2
Let me clarify... What you wrote is what YOU purchased and use the system for. What I stated was that Sonos was primarily an MP3 streaming device. Everything else over the years has been a bonus.

.... and to be clear, MP3 streaming WAS the original feature of Sonos, and for YOU Internet streaming is a bonus.

But for many customers Internet streaming is a key capability and reason for purchase, not just a bonus. And I think it is the best Internet audio streamer.