If you love listening to Pandora when you're on the go, you may have to start paying up. Pandora has announced that it will now be capping mobile users to 40 hours of listening per month. If you reach that cap, the music will stop, and you'll need to pay a fee of $.99 if you'd like to continue listening for the remainder of the month. The reason behind this is the rising costs of the per-track royalty rates that Pandora has to pay.
"Pandora’s per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, including 9% in 2013 alone and are scheduled to increase an additional 16% over the next two years. After a close look at our overall listening, a 40-hour-per-month mobile listening limit allows us to manage these escalating costs with minimal listener disruption."
Pandora says this should only affect about 4% of its users, so it shouldn't be a huge deal. Subscribers to the Pandora One service, which eliminated the ads altogether for $36 per year, are not affected.
Read More | Pandora
Spotify for iOS has just received a massive overhaul, bringing the UI in line with the look that Android's been sporting for a while. iOS users now get access to features like the swiping method for accessing different areas of the Spotify app (similar to what you can do in the Facebook iOS app.) The "Now Playing" area shows you the artist and track name no matter where you are navigating in the app, right above the play controls. You can swipe here to go to the next or previous track with ease. You also get bug fixes and overall improvements to stability, as well as the Ford SYNC AppLink Spotify feature that we mentioned yesterday. You can grab the update now from the App Store, and peep the full changelog after the break.
Read More | Spotify
Ford and Spotify have announced a partnership that sees the popular streaming music service make an appearance in Ford vehicles. Spotify is now compatible with Ford SYNC AppLink, streaming its catalog of over 20 million tracks over the car radio. You'll need to download the new iOS or Android Spotify apps to take advantage of the new hotness. You be able to access your songs, playlists, and custom stations, and can even control things with voice commands. Aside from Spotify, Ford SYNC AppLink allows you to access other service, like Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player, MOG, Slacker, and Rhapsody.
Read More | Ford
The Sonos Playbar is an exciting piece of gadgetry coming from one of our favorite companies, and it's now been announced that it ships on March 5. The Playbar connects to your television using a digital optical cable, offering massive sound through its nine drivers. Since it's a Sonos device, you can also play all your music through it as well. Throw in a Sonos SUB and a pair of Play:3 units, and you've got yourself a 5.1 surround sound system. March 5th is the date, and you can pre-order it now for $699.
Ford and Amazon have announced that Amazon MP3 for Android has been updated with Ford SYNC support, which means that you can use your Android device with Ford's admittedly awesome infotainment system to access all your tracks stored in your Amazon Cloud Player. As is typical with SYNC, you can even control playback with voice commands. Amazon MP3 2.8 for Android also includes the typical bug fixes, and the store has been redesigned to show more search results.
Read More | Amazon
Slacker has been around for a few years as both a free and premium Internet radio service, and now the service has released a new redesign. The old black and gold interface is replaced with a newer, hipper, cleaner look on all platforms, including web, Xbox 360 app, and mobile apps. Slacker had to do something to take some attention away from Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, and the like, and we have to say that the new design makes things easier on the eyes, and thusly, easier to use.
Slacker pricing remains intact. You have the free version, Radio Plus for $3.99 per month, and then Slacker Premium for $9.99 per month. Updated Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10 versions are on the way as well.
Gear Live's love affair with Sonos is no secret - we love the product dearly, and with today's introduction of the Playbar, it's grown even more. With the Sonos Playbar, the company is effectively entering the home theater space, providing a soundbar that's capable of pumping out massive sound through its nine drivers (size mid-range drivers and three tweeters.) Simply connect it to your television through optical TOSlink, and you are ready to go.
The Playbar isn't just a typical soundbar speaker--it's a Sonos product, and that means it ties right in to the Sonos ecosystem. You can use it to play music streamed from your iTunes library, streaming music subscription services like Rdio and Spotify, Pandora, and many more.
It gets better, too. Sonos says you can pair the Soundbar with the Sonos SUB and/or a couple of Play:3 or Play:5 units for a full-on 5.1 surround sound experience. It'll be expensive, but it leaves us salivating. You can pick up the Sonos Playbar next month for $699, and it's available for pre-order right now.
Read More | Sonos
Windows Phone 8 users have been patiently waiting for Spotify to hit the platform, and the day has finally arrived. You can download the beta Spotify app to get your subscription music streaming on while simultaneously kicking Xbox Music to the curb. The wait was due to the Windows Phone 7 Spotify app being built by a third party and paid for by Microsoft, in an attempt to just get Spotify onto its phones, and since Windows Phone 8 is a totally different platform, the app needed to be rewritten from scratch. Not sure why that garish pus-yellow background needed to be included, but we guess beggars can't be choosers.
Read More | Windows Phone Blog
They say music is the universal language, and as music lovers ourselves, we think it's one of the best gifts that you can give, and we're putting it in our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide. Rather than grabbing an iTunes gift card, or worse, a random CD from the bargain bin, we recommend hitting your loves ones up with Rdio gift subscriptions. Why? It allows the user unlimited access to the entire Rdio music streaming catalog. That means on-demand access to millions of tracks from the web, iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and even your Sonos system. Rdio costs $9.99 per month for full access. We love it--check out Gear Live on Rdio!
We are giving away three 3-month subscriptions to Rdio to our readers as well! To enter, all you need to do is:
- Follow Gear Live on Twitter
- Tweet the following message: "Hey @GearLive - hook me up with that free @Rdio subscription! http://gear.lv/SEjTdi" (Click here to tweet this now!)
Good luck to all entrants, and be sure to look through the rest of our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide for more giveaways!
Read More | Rdio
Microsoft is touting a bunch of the new apps that will be coming to Windows Phone 8, and one it's really excited about is Pandora. You're in for a little bit of a wait for the app, as it won't appear for Windows Phone 8 users until early 2013, but when it does, it will offer ad-free listening for the first year. That's basically free 12-month subscription to Pandora One from Microsoft for users of its new smartphones. Pretty nice.