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Spotify live in U.S.; a vision realized for Sean Parker of Napster fame

July 14, 2011 | 12:52 pm

SpotifyonMac

Spotify in now playing in the U.S.

The online music service, hugely popular in Europe, is now live in the States. But to start using Spotify, users need to be invited in -- a very Google-esque move. Well, that is unless you're willing to sign up and pay for Spotify.

The music-streaming service has been expected for more than a year now as Spotify had to reach agreements with record labels over licensing rights to songs on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Llquz5nc But now that it's here and launched, it's the realization of a vision for tech investor Sean Parker, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Parker, who was an early employee at both Napster (back when it was a file-sharing service) and Facebook (the world's largest social-networking service), sits on Spotify's board of directors and is a managing partner at the Founders Fund venture capital firm.

"For a decade I have waited for a music service that could rekindle my excitement about music by enabling music to be shared freely across the world -- all the while empowering artists to reap the economic benefits of selling their music," Parker wrote on his Facebook wall Thursday, according to the Financial Times.

The service has three tiers of membership based on what is often referred to as a "freemium" model with both a free, ad-supported option and paid subscriptions as well, which Los Angeles Times reporter Alex Pham breaks down on our sister blog Pop & Hiss:

The free tier will let users listen to the company's catalog of more than 15 million songs from a computer connection for six months. After that, free users will be capped at 10 hours a month and up to five spins for any particular song.

Spotify's paid tiers include a plan for $4.99 a month that will let users listen without ads, and another for $9.99 a month that allows users to access music from a smartphone such as an iPhone, Android, Palm or Windows 7 device.

Spotify's main competitors in the U.S. include services like Pandora, a free music-streaming service that groups music by genre or artist, and Last.fm, a streaming music recommendation service. And, of course, Apple's iTunes, which is the biggest online music store. Apple charges by the song or the album and is looking to battle challengers with its coming iCloud service, which will allow users to stream music they've already purchased.

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Apple's iCloud is free, iTunes Match is $25 a year

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Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker team for Yo, a new video chat project

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Image: (Top) Spotify's desktop app running on a laptop. Credit: Spotify/YouTube

Photo: (Bottom) Founders Fund Managing Partner Sean Parker attends the eG8 forum in Paris May 25, 2011. Credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

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