pandora-logo-icon-large In an under the radar blog post today, Pandora gently massaged their users with a new 40 hour per month limit on free mobile listening.

The new limit is said to affect less than 4% of their total monthly listeners. As we recently noted, the average listener is only tuning in for an average of 21 hours per month across all platforms so, the vast majority of users will be left unfazed.

Pandora notes ongoing increases in royalty rates as the cause for this new 40 hour rule. The streaming music company has been hit with an increase of 25% over the last 3 years and with an additional 16% coming in the next two years, things aren’t exactly looking any better.

Power users can still use and abuse the desktop platform to their hearts delight but, if they want more than 40 hours of mobile, they will have to pay $0.99 for anything over 40 hours, or subscribe to the $3.99 per month Pandora One plan ($36 per year).

Those of you wondering where the tipping point for royalty rates might be… we just hit it. The question now is, will SoundExchange work with music streaming services, or will they cut off their nose to spite their face?