Feeds

Spotify throttles free listeners

Puts on a shrinking cap

Boost IT visibility and business value

Spotify is throttling the amount of free listening available to users of the service in a set of small but complex changes.

The main change is that users who sign up to the free ad-supported Spotify will be restricted to 10 hours of listening a month, with a maximum of five plays for an individual song. There's a six month grace period for users who have already signed up, since 1 November 2010.

Co-founder Daniel Ek announced the details on the Spotify blog today. Spotify will continue to offer a free day trial of the ad-free service, which costs either £5 a month for unlimited streaming or £10 a month for offline and mobile playback on top of that.

Spotify's chief content officer Ken Parks hints that the changes were forced on the company.

He said: "We've shown that the model is doing extremely well, but as things stand we need to tweak the service to ensure everyone has access to legal music in the long term."

When Spotify launched the free, ad-supported access to millions of songs, it was touted as the cure for piracy. Since then streaming services have flourished, but possibly at the expense of licensed, paid-for song downloads as much as pirate sites.

Yet unlike anything coming out of Shoreditch, the company brings in real money. Indie music empire Beggars says Spotify is already the third-largest digital account in territories in which it operates.

A bigger problem for Spotify is that in the long term, paying for art by flat-fee subscription tends to leave everyone in an unhappy compromise: just look at Premier League football, which moved from a pay-as-you-go to a prepay model a decade ago. The artist who has written and/or performed the hit of the day (which might be a once-in-a-lifetime moment) can't capture the value of their popularity, so will keep their latest music away from Spotify, distributing it through more lucrative channels, while it's hot.

The punter who signed up expecting the promised "universal jukebox", then discovers it isn't, and goes off to Amazon or iTunes to buy it legally, or acquires an unlicensed copy. Spotify lags about six weeks behind the charts, but if a record is popular, that lacuna can stretch into months.

It isn't hard to imagine a "Spotify Select" premium offering on top of the existing top tier giving access to this. It's equally easy to see why this would never happen. But I've never heard of a copyright "problem" that can't solved by the voluntary and willing exchange of money. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.