Earlier today, Pandora announced that it will be instituting a limit on the hours of free streaming mobile users can utilize. This move comes from increasing royalty costs, with the service trying to strike a balance between meeting extra costs and allowing users to have free access to streaming music. This change won't affect many users, according to Pandora.
According to Pandora, limiting the hours of free streaming music is not something the service wants to do, with it being "contrary to our [Pandora's] mission." It has to do this, however, due to an over 25-percent increase in royalties since 2010, which the service has to pay for per track played. Among this price increase is a fairly large rate increase of 9-percent in 2013, with another jump of 16-percent expected by 2015.
This change will not affect the majority of mobile users, however, with Pandora reporting that those who listen to more than 40 hours of free music per month represents under 4-percent of its active listeners. To put 40 hours in perspective, with an average song time of 4 minutes per song, users will be able to stream 600 songs for free before having to pay, and the monthly rate is more than reasonable at just $0.99.
For those who don't want to put up with the hassle of paying $0.99 after hitting their free listening limit, a Pandora One subscription is also available, which will also get rid of the advertisements. Under the $0.99 option, users will still have to listen to ads. The change goes into effect this week, and users will be alerted when they near their free listening cap.