Spotify Imposes New Limits on Free Music Service

By Beecher Tuttle April 14, 2011

Popular European online music service Spotify is adding more limits to the free listening time that it offers to users, founder and chief executive Daniel Ek announced in a blog post on Thursday.

Beginning on May 1, any user who signed up for service on or before Nov. 1, 2010 will be throttled back to a limit of 10 hours of listening per month, which is the equivalent of around 200 songs. Furthermore, users will only be able to play a track for free five times. Currently, Spotify offers 20 hours of free listening and has no limits on how many times a user can play a given song.

In an effort to continue to add membership, the service will be a bit more accommodating to new users. People who signed up for Spotify's free-of-charge, advertising-backed service after the beginning of November or who do so in the future will be offered the current 20-hour listening limit for a full six months. After that point, the same changes will be applied to their account.

"It's vital that we continue offering an on-demand free service to you and millions more like you, but to make that possible we have to put some limits in place going forward," Ek wrote to Spotify members, some of whom didn't take the news all that well.

"So long Spotify. It was nice knowing you. Guess I'll go back to pirating music again then," noted one user.

However, many others recognized the need for Spotify to encourage more users to sign up for the company's unlimited and premium services, which top out at around $16 a month, according to Mashable

Spotify currently boasts a membership of around 6.67 million users. Unfortunately, only about 1 million of those are paid subscribers. The European music service reportedly lost $26.7 million in 2009, making the move a clear imperative. 

"The economics of ad-supported music services just don't add up and Spotify can't survive long-term while it hemorrhages money from its free service," Mark Mulligan, an analyst with Forrester Research, told the BBC.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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