After a long beta period, streaming music service Pandora today launched its new, HTML5-based website. That, by itself, would have been a newsworthy story, but I think what’s really going to resonate with users is the face that this launch also heralds the end to Pandora’s 40 hours listening cap for users with free accounts. The free accounts will, of course, continue to feature ads and lower quality audio than paid accounts. While the company still markets “unlimited listening” as a major perk for paying users ($36/year), one of the main reasons for the company’s most active users to pay for the service is now gone.
Just a few years ago, a massive scandal rocked the FM radio world when internal memos from Sony Music showed that the major record labels routinely bought “spins” for their artists. Earbits, a new YCombinator-funded music startup, is now bringing a more sophisticated version of this system to the web. Over 1,300 bands have already signed up for the service that will ask bands to pay to get their music to the ears of Earbits’ users.