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The 'Bad News' for Pandora Is Not News At All

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The second I received the email I knew what was about to happen: Another Pandora (P) non-story was set to blow out of proportion.

I'll make this quick because there's no need to spend a ton of time on it.

Guys like Richard Greenspare of BTIG Media will use this to push their vendettas against Pandora. They are no longer bear cases. It's become as disingenuous and dirty as politics. If you hate Obama, nothing he does is good. If you hated Bush, same thing. Along similar lines, no matter what Pandora does, bears will spin it to suit their case. It's become personal.

Richard Greenspare (or is it Greenfield?) has no credibility on Pandora. None. He refuses to do his homework and properly engage the company. You can't talk to everybody, but when you're as negative as he is on Pandora, you simply cannot hit and run a company, yet refuse to interact with its management, at least not if you want to be known as a Wall Street analyst with a shred of integrity.

I single out Greenspare because he'll undoubtedly be out with "a cautious note" on the news that Pandora will limit mobile listening to 40 hours per month. This is only news insofar as the company has a legal and customer-service related responsibility to disclose it.

Here are the details many members of the media want to ignore:

  • This cap impacts less than 4% of Pandora's audience.
  • The company did the same thing with desktop listening several years ago -- and later lifted it -- as desktop revenue was ramping, just as mobile revenue is now.
  • You can listen unlimited on mobile if you hit the cap by paying 99 cents for the remainder of the month or buying a $36 annual Pandora One subscription.

That's it. Pandora is not lying. It's not being disingenuous. Most listeners never hit that 40 hour cap. A vast majority. Almost all.

This has nothing to do with the business model. Nothing to do with an inability to leverage mobile. Mobile revenue is up 112% year-over-year at $74 million in the most recent quarter. As Pandora continues to build out its sales infrastructure and the larger mobile industry-wide mobile transformation takes shape, it will continue to grow.

But, at day's end, Pandora needed to do this because it takes a little bit of the heat off vis-à-vis its inequitable music royalty cost structure. That's not a business model problem; it's a legislative, music industry-related one.

Investors should cheer this news. It will have minimal, if any, impact on the listener, yet improve the business as the company pushes for and ultimately scores a big win for musicians and Internet radio in Congress.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Stock quotes in this article: P 
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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