At the end of the day we do not know where the source of every innovation is derived. There are uncountable micro steps that occurred thousands of years prior before we can take the step that we call innovation. For example, we didn’t just put someone on the moon, we first needed to create an engine. The Internet couldn’t have been dreamed of before the first computer. And so it is with every break through we see. It really was just a small step bringing different pieces together in a precise way.
So, what was the innovation of Pandora Radio? It’s simple. They gave the consumer control on how they’d like to pay. Your time listening to advertisements, or $4.99 per month to remove the ads. After all, the company and musicians do have to get paid if we want them to continue to deliver their in-demand products. I think this is secretly why the commercials on Pandora Radio are somewhat worse than anywhere else. It’s like they’re saying, “Give us that $5 and we will turn this off!” (I’m half kidding here).
Imagine if restaurants would adopt this method? The wait staff would ask, “Ok, you ordered the steak, that’ll be listening to a headphone of jingles during the entire meal or $30. What’ll it be?”
In all seriousness though, what a simple idea, give the consumer the choice on how they’d like to pay for the product, with time or with money.
What lessons can we glean from Pandora Radio, Netflix, and the like? Are there places in our own lives, that we need to take back control of? Are there better ways of spending our time? Has our time become as invaluable as a five dollar bill? If you bill out at $20/hour (about $0.33/minute) then isn’t the monthly cumulation of only 3 – 4 thirty second commercial per week worth the monthly five dollars?! Or has our time become that worthless?
I think there are three biggies to glean here
1. Reclaim our time. This doesn’t mean we need to be productive. Sometimes sitting and thinking or relaxing is the best use of our time. But we must value our time properly. We should calculate the usage of our time more frequently and realize that time is one of the greatest commodities in life. Once we spend it, we don’t get it back and last I checked no one is selling more time to add to your life.
2. Be more considerate of the time of others. We often assume that no one else cares how we fill their time. If someone asks a question, we tend to get it off our chests. There is a tendency to take the mic and run on with it. The founding team that brought us Pandora Radio had the sensitivity to ask the bold question, “Maybe listeners would prefer not to listen to this.” How novel. Perhaps we should ask the same question the next time we ramble on about whatever pops into our heads.
3. Stop complaining. Commercials are painful but there’s nearly always another choice. We often let life dictate terms to us as we remain somewhat passive bystanders. This is especially true as consumers. In a Pandora Radio age, we get to chose how we consume information. We must learn to carry this incredible innovation into our personal lives. Are there toxic relationships that need redirecting? Removing? Do we communicate when people are hurtful to us or to others? Or, do we just feel down and helpless about the situation? We need to always remember that we are in the driver’s seat and be able to ask ourselves if there is an alternative. At a minimum, we can then better appreciate the reason why we choose to go through the downshots of our decisions.
The Hebrew month of Elul is a time to review our year and ask ourselves if we’ve in fact hit our potential. It is a time to recalculate our spiritual GPS. While Waze can save us time by avoiding traffic jams and bottlenecks, our input still determines the destination and what we do with our saved time. One of the greatest mitzvot that we have is learning Torah. The rationale is simple, if you don’t know the details of a mitzvah, how will you be able to do that mitzvah? The mitzvah of learning Torah requires both our time and attention. In fact, it is incumbent upon us at every free moment. In a Pandora Radio world, why is it that we seem to have increasingly less time for the important things?