I gave them my $20/year for a Pro account. I wanted to believe that enough people could recognize that what Soundcloud was doing for both producers and consumers was grassroots and special enough that it warranted support sufficient to meet its budgetary needs.
It's more convenient for me to upload a track to Soundcloud and check the mix in my car, office, or wherever than to physically connect my iPhone and then deal with iTunes. Even using my Soundcloud "likes" playlist is easier than going through iTunes. I imagine that the ease of ultilizing Soundcloud for my personal uploads won't change, but consuming other artists' content will, and it shall become increasingly complex for increasingly popular artists.
We seem to have built this internet business model that begins with providing a service superior to others in the same field, establishing a large user base, and then cashing in on your dominance (Facebook, YouTube, Google). I think people are starting to get tired of it. The examples that I listed managed to monetize successfully, but as the billboard article mentions, monetizing without doing your homework can lead to the destruction of your service... case in point: the popping of the dot-com bubble. I haven't formulated some magic alternative business model capable of providing a challenge to the current modus operandi, but I hope someone does.
I'm not jumping ship just yet. It will be interesting to see Soundcloud's implementation of these "new features". Like yourself, my reaction is overwhelming pessimism, but German software and business ethics are typically some of the best you could hope for.