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Spotify shrinks back free listening to push subscriptions

updated 08:10 am EDT, Thu April 14, 2011

Spotify limits listening again on listeners

Spotify in a memo on Thursday confirmed plans to again restrict free listening on its service. The European streaming site is halving the total free listening time per month to 10 hours and is now introducing a per-song cap. Anyone who signs up from May 1 onwards will, after their first six months, listen to a track for free up to five times for the life of the free account.

Those subscribing to the Premium service aren't seeing any changes, Spotify said. An extended 30-day trial period is being offered through May to get users to sign up.

Company chief Daniel Ek tried to assuage users by noting that most listeners use Spotify to discover new music, not play old favorites. A typical user wouldn't hit the five-play cap for 70 percent of songs, he said. He sidestepped the issue of favorite songs being locked out where they weren't before.

Ek hinted at the widely held belief that label pressure was responsible for the reduced features. Major labels have often been frustrated in attempting to push for paying customers and are known to have threatened withdrawals the moment their contract renewals came. "Above all, this means we can continue making Spotify available to all in the long-term," he said.

The free access still gives it an advantage over subscription-only services like Rhapsody or Rdio but turns the free, ad-sponsored service into primarily a sample for the paid version. It remained to be seen whether the plan would drive more customers or have them consider pay-per-track services like iTunes or 7digital.

by MacNN Staff



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