Pandora hiking subscription prices

|About: Pandora Media (P)|By:, SA News Editor

Pandora's (P) ad-free One radio service, currently offered for $36/year or $3.99/month, will cost $4.99/month for new subscribers starting in May. Annual subs will get a "discounted loyalty price" of $3.99/month at renewal time, and current monthly subs will see no price changes.

Higher royalty rates are blamed for the hike. Pandora says the rate it pays to recording royalty group SoundExchange (responsible for a large chunk of its licensing fees) has risen 53% in the last 5 years, and is expected grow another 9% in 2015.

Pandora's "subscription & other" revenue soared 132% Y/Y in Q4 to $38.8M, and made up 19% of total revenue. The company ended 2013 with 3.3M subs (compares with 75.3M active listeners in February).

The ad-free version of Apple's iTunes Radio costs only $25/year, and comes bundled with an iTunes Match subscription. But the service doesn't work on Android devices.

Earlier: Pandora's CTO/product chief stepping down