Apparently so. I just hit the 40 hour a month cap and can no longer listen to my beloved Pandora stations without paying for it. Damn. The counter resets tomorrow so Im not going to do anything rash – like send them my money, but I was astonished that Pandora has come this far.
Ive watched over the months as I’ve been getting an increasing number of advertisements, both those that play audio for 30 seconds or so in between songs and in several instances a video popup that can only be muted. I know the RIAA is breathing down the neck of the FCC and other regulators to kill Pandora by forcing them to pay the same royalties as radio for playing music.
The trouble is that Pandora has nowhere near the business model of any radio station and so does not generate anywhere near the same revenue. Hence, if the FCC were to say that Pandora needed to pay even a fraction of what radio plays they go out of business entirely. Obviously this is a disservice to everyone, especially smaller bands looking for exposure.
I don’t know the way to make everyone happy, but the answer cannot be to force Pandora to choose between a new business model making them no different than radio or going out of business.