However, with this deal, they all now have something of a target on their backs. Even if they stopped today, the deal is retroactive to 2006. Not that the costs are horrendous (if I'm reading this right) ... for songs played in 2006 the rate is 1/12th cent per song and going up to 1/7th cent per song by 2014 ... I'm guessing that means about 2¢/hour on one end and about 3¢/hour on the other (of course, the question being is that per song played or per listener connected to the stream per song?).
I'd actually gotten something of a heads-up on this via a letter from Pandora's founder yesterday. It was informing me that I probably would have to start paying for Pandora, as they now will let you listen to 40 hours free per month, and (as I noted in an e-mail reply) that's about 3 days for me! Their deal, however, is either pay $0.99 to cover the rest of the month once you hit 40 hours (which would be my best deal), or pay $36/year and get an enhanced service pack with bigger bandwidth streams, a desktop app, custom "skins", etc. I think it's interesting that Pandora has been keeping tabs on who was listening ... as it appears that the letter I got just went out to their top 10% users (and I do, pretty much, have Pandora playing all the time when I'm at my computer, which is pretty much 12-16 hours a day).
I wonder how many folks out there are still "spinning" their own radio shows. Given what I recall about most of these folks, I can't imagine them voluntarily signing up to pay rights fees ... but with this new deal, it's probably going to be a lot like the situation with the bars, with roving "inspectors" looking for establishments that aren't in compliance. Since most of these folks aren't making any money on this (the deal was either a percentage of your revenue or a per-song fee), they'd have to go out-of-pocket song-by-song (and have to keep logs just like "real" radio stations), and I can't imagine most of these folks doing that.
It will be interesting to see how this will shake out. In the meanwhile I'm going to have to figure out how they want to get my $0.99 every month over at Pandora!