Spotify Launches In The U.S. And Here Is Our First Look

It’s nice when companies keep their word. As we expected last week, Spotify officially became available in the United States today, although the free version of Spotify is not available unless you receive an invitation. The premium version of Spotify, which costs $9.99 per month, provides full access to the service.

If you intend to use Spotify on a mobile device, you will need to sign up for the premium service as that is the only one that provides mobile app access. In addition to being able to stream music on mobile devices, you also download playlists to the device for playback without being connected to the Internet. If your data service has a data transfer cap you will want to limit the amount of streaming you do over your provider’s network. A premium subscription also removes advertisements and provides unlimited streaming.

For those who only intend to play music from a Mac or Windows desktop, the Unlimited plan at $4.99 provides access to the Spotify catalog without advertisements, along with unlimited streaming. The free version of Spotify provides unlimited streaming, but you have to listen to ads.

I signed up for the premium service from my Android smartphone after installing the Spotify app from the Android Market. Spotify is playlist centric and it allows you to create playlists of entire albums and mix playlists by designating individual tracks to specific playlists.

The Spotify app not only lists the songs in playlists that you create, but it also lists other music on the phone that you may have downloaded from other sources, and you can add those tracks to any of playlists that you create in Spotify.

One thing I don’t like is that the Library in the Android app, which lists all of the songs in your playlists in alphabetical order, does not have sorting options. You can filter songs, artists, or album names, but I generally like to sort music in my libraries by artist.

If you are the type who likes to share your playlists with others, you can share your Spotify playlists on Facebook and Twitter. In both cases, you share a link to the playlist in a wall post or tweet, but in order for your friends to open the playlist they will need the Spotify app on their computer.

Spotify also has a sharing component within their service. You can publish playlists that other Spotify members can see and subcribe to. Playlists that you subscribe to appear in your list of playlists, and will be updated as songs are added or removed from the playlist. Another way to share within Spotify is to send a song or playlist directly to a friend’s inbox. Spotify can connect to Facebook to identify your friends who are using Spotify.

Spotify’s pricing is competitive with other online music services, but it stands out from the crowd with it’s huge music catalog and support for all of the major smartphone platforms. Premium subscribers can access Spotify from any device for the same monthly fee. The single downside of Spotify that I can see is that you do not own any of the music. In contrast, Microsoft’s Zune Pass costs $14.99 per month and that includes 10 free songs per month plus full access to their music catalog.