To outsiders looking at the mobile technology industry, we must appear to be obsessed with music. Each of the major platform companies have their own music services, from Apple’s iTunes, to Microsoft’s Zune, and to Google’s Music beta. Companies that endeavor to become platforms, such as Amazon, see providing a music service as table stakes. With new music services seemingly popping up daily, it’s hard for any one service to rise above the crowd, but indeed one has, and it isn’t even available in the U.S. Of course, I am talking about Spotify.
Spotify originally launched in 2008 and since then has been only available in Europe. It quickly become very popular because it provided free access to an enormous catalog of music, which currently stands at more than 13 million tracks. Basically, unlike other free music streaming services, Spotify likely had all of the music that one would want to listen. Unfortunately, while Spotify originally provided unlimited free access to its music, supported by advertisements, that has since changed to a limit of 10 hours of free music per month.
Another difference between Spotify and other services is that it enables users to create playlists of the music tracks that they find in the service. In short, Spotify functions in every way that standalone music managers function, and in many people’s opinion it is easier to operate. Spotify also provides the ability to upload your own music that it doesn’t not have to your account so that you can work with that music along with what’s in Spotify’s catalog.
Since it originally launched, Spotify has expanded to provided apps for all of the major mobile platforms. You do have to pay for Spotify’s premium service in order to play music from Spotify’s catalog. User’s of the free Spotify service can access their own music they uploaded to Spotify using the Spotify mobile app. Subscribers to Spotify’s premium service can download playlists to their device so that they are available when there is no Internet access. Android and iPhone apps are available.
The reason why Spotify has been able to remain in business is that they negotiated agreements with the record labels. Those record label agreements have also been the hold up of Spotify’s release in the United States. According to news reports, Spotify is finally set to become available in the U.S. next week and U.S. residents can now request an invitation to the service when it launches.
Details have how the U.S. version of Spotify will work are unknown, although it is expected to be similar to the service in the U.K where the Spotify Premium service costs $16 per month, and the Spotify Unlimited service, which restricts playback to personal computers, costs $8 per month. Without the benefit of providing free, unlimited access to their catalog, it will be interesting to see whether Spotify will gain the same acceptance in the U.S. as in Europe.