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Freebie Spotify is back, also £5 no-ads option

Only a few left standing in legit-music deathmatch

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Spotify closed its doors to new free listeners in the UK last August, except by invitation, and the waiting list - according to some readers - is months. Now it's introducing 20 hours of free listening for which no invitation is necessary. You'll hear ads, of course, on this package which is called Spotify Open.

Spotify has also unbundled mobile access from its tenner-a-month subscription deal with a new package called Spotify Unlimited, which offers unlimited ad-free streams for £4.99 a month. The £9.99 subscription, which adds offline access on up to three computers or phones, remains unchanged.

We7 also offers streaming for £4.99, and mobile access for £9.99 a month, and both have iPhone/iPod Touch clients.

There's a comparison chart here.

Despite formidable economic challenges facing legitimate ad-supported music services, at least one is looking confident. We7 last month said it was the first to meet the royalties bill entirely from ad revenues, in comparison with similar servies which offer artists only a "minuscule or non-existent revenue share" (We7's words) and all the risk.

Apple closed down the ad-supported music service Lala earlier this month, having acquired it for $17m. Another music streaming hopeful, Imeem, was acquired by MySpace last December and closed the same day.

Spotify's revenue share is complicated by the fact that major record labels have equity stakes in the company, so the accounting is as clear as mud. ®

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