Starting this week, anyone with a free account on a mobile device will be limited to 40 hours of free listening a month. If a user exceeds 40 hours, they have the option of either paying 99 cents for unlimited access for the rest of the month, or spring for the $36-a-year subscription.
The changes are a result of increasing royalty costs that the service has had to shoulder over the last three years, despite the company’s vigorous lobbying efforts to cut payment rates to artists. SPIN reports that oft-criticized Pandora founder Tim Westergren has been on the conservative think-tank circuit, making the case to lawmakers.
Westergren is urging users not to panic. According to a blog post, the interruption in service will only affect four percent of all listeners since the vast majority of Pandora users rarely exceed 20 hours of listening a month.