The ad supported, free, streaming music service Spotify is finally available in the U.S. The service has been around in European countries for quite a few years but obstacles had to be overcome to get the service into the U.S. Apparently international licensing is a mess to deal with. Who knew?
Spotify works largely the same way in the U.S. as it does in Europe. You get to choose the tracks you want to listen to on demand. You get some audio ads in between tracks, and there are also banner ads in the software itself. This is a nice divergence from services like Pandora where you can suggest an artist or track you enjoy to start a station based around, but you don’t have any control over what tracks are streamed your way.
The service is going to have three plans; free, premium, and unlimited. The free account is obviously completely free and all you have to deal with are the ads. Premium will run $5/month and gives you all the perks of free minus the ads. Unlimited brings the monthly cost up to $10/month and adds access to the mobile app and gives you offline storage of tracks.
Spotify’s CEO, Ken Parks is really trying to drive home the fact that the free service is where the company expects to really succeed. “Spotify is really serious about the model that includes a really free experience, and we were keen that we preserved that intact when we came to the United States.”
So why bother with Spotify? Well for one, their catalog is truly extensive. The second real reason to go to Spotify is that it can incorporate your current iTunes library. When you install the software it will scan your iTunes library and allow you to add the songs in your library to the Spotify app. There are some other compelling features as well like Spotify Social which allows you to share tracks and subscribe to the playlists of other users.
The only real downsides right now are the lack of a native iPad app, the poor implementation of the recommendation engine, and the poor selection of preset radio stations.
So how do you get in? Right now invites for the free version are being sent around via Klout. The other option is to just shell out the cash for the Premium or Unlimited plans and you can get in right away. There is no specific word as to when the free version will be available without an invite. Are you using Spotify? Do you like it so far? Any improvements to the service you’d like to see?