updated 06:45 pm EDT, Wed April 13, 2011
Spotify may limit free listening time again
Spotify may shrink back the amount of free listening it gives once again, insiders said Wednesday. Having already limited new members on the free plan to 20 hours of listening per month, it's now reportedly considering locking down the number of listens per song and might also throttle back existing listeners. The company could make the changes public as soon as this week, CNET heard, although they wouldn't take effect until May.
The reasons for the clampdown weren't given, but it would most likely be to appease labels that want more paying customers and fewer depending on ads. Spotify has been successful in Europe and has been securing labels in the US, but an American launch has already been contingent on discouraging too many from relying on the free version.
Spotify is often considered the top-earning music service in Europe, even eclipsing iTunes, but labels have often been upset that it wasn't enough to offset declines in CD sales. The US largely rejects streaming services and is almost exclusively dominated by the pay-per-track Apple and Amazon stores in the digital realm. Free services like iMeem and SpiralFrog have usually died prematurely through a difficult in generating cash or convincing labels to come onboard.
No one at Spotify commented on the rumors.