Are you ready for free access to 15 million songs? Spotify is coming to the US and its the first free music player of its kind, Spotify is expected to become a major competitor to music download services like iTunes. The service launched in the US on Thursday, and Spotify is ramping up their free service option. For the time being the free plan is invite-only and is expected to be opened to everybody in a few weeks. In the meantime, once Spotify emails users their invitations, they will be able to listen to any of the 15 million songs from their computer. There are, of course, a few catches. First, you will have to listen to commercials. And after 6 months you will be limited to 10 hours per month.
Sweden’s Spotify has been well known in Europe for years. Since 2006, 10 million listeners from Sweden, France, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, and Norway have been tuning in to Europe’s hottest music service using their computers and mobile phones. Spotify utilizes the high speed internet access many mobile phones and most home computers now have to allow users to stream music from Spotify’s catalogue rather than keep it on their personal devices.
This is quite possibly what could kill Apple’s iTunes service as we know it, and indeed, threatens the entire music download industry. On a cloud system files stay on a remote server and are read by users but not downloaded to the user’s computer to be stored. Up until now, services like iTunes made users pay for songs which they then had to download and store on their computer. Many an unhappy computer user has lost his entire music collection due to a hard drive failure or laptop theft. This is one of the benefits of the cloud. Much like Netflix has been called the video store killer (and now cable killer), the launch of Spotify may mark the beginning of the end of paid music downloads like those sold through iTunes. Apple’s cloud solution, iTunes Match, offers a free service, but it only allows users to listen to songs purchased through iTunes. At $25 per year, Apple’s paid offering is cheaper than Spotify’s, but limits users to their own library of songs.