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Spotify alters its streaming rules: You gotta pay to play

Spotify-logo For the lucky few in the U.S. who have access to Spotify's digital music service, unlimited free play will soon be over.

The popular Swedish music service on Thursday announced that it would start limiting how much free music nonpaying subscribers can access.

Beginning May 1, listeners who don't pay for Spotify's premium service will be limited to 10 hours of music a month. In addition, they will be able to play a particular song only five times.

Those who pay for the premium service, 10 pounds a month in the U.K. or 10 euros elsewhere in Europe, will continue to have unlimited access to Spotify's catalog of 10 million songs.

Spotify is technically not available in the U.S., since the Swedish music company has not been able to secure the necessary licenses from all the major record labels to operate here. A number of Americans, however, have been able to jack into the service nonetheless, either through complimentary trial accounts or by hacking their their way in.

The limits seem designed to appease major labels, which have balked at allowing Spotify to cross the pond and do business in the U.S., the world's largest and most lucrative music market. You can read more business analysis of this move on our sister blog Company Town.

Spotify founder Daniel Ek, in a blog post to subscribers, tried to lessen the blow, saying that 10 hours is still "equivalent to around 200 tracks or 20 albums." He added, "Plus, the average user won’t reach the limit on plays for seven out of 10 tracks, after a year of using Spotify. For those of you using Spotify to find new tracks to enjoy and share with friends, these changes shouldn’t get in the way of you doing that."

The silver lining may be that Spotify's changes could pave the way for the popular service to come to the U.S.

-- Alex Pham

Twitter: @AlexPham

Comments () | Archives (3)

I'll keep using the free account, 10 hours is enough for me.

There's a nice way of playing the free Spotify on the iPhone (via WiFi2HiFi app):

Don't get it why everything needs to be free. Have spotify-premium almost a year now for 10€ a month. (i'm dutch). It's simply great. One click in PC and all your playlists are instantly available on my android. Soon Spotify will be available on new AV surround receivers. If they can beat the lawyers to fill the caps (for me i miss Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin) an account is simply a no-brainer.

That is just a good idea from Spotify. If you wish to hear any responses or reactions from this issue, try to come and listen to the legal advisers of Barney McKenna & Olmstead, P.C..


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