January 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Spotify’s Free, Unlimited Music Party Ends Next Week

spotify premium

Starting next week, people who want to listen to more than 10 hours of Spotify per month or play any song more than five times will have to upgrade to the premium version, pictured here.

Remember how we were waiting for Spotify to launch in the states for what seemed like decades?

A condition of Spotify’s eventual arrival on these shores about six months ago were new limits on free music listening: 10 hours per month, and the ability to listen to any given song just five times, ever, unless you want to pay for an account ($5/month on a computer or $10/month on smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes).

Next week, those limits will kick in, as noted by Business Insider, so people who signed up for the free version of Spotify when it launched will find the free, unlimited music party coming to an end.

In a sense, 10 hours per month is a lot of time, considering that within that time, you can listen to any of 13-million-plus songs, whenever you want, without paying a cent. This is what people like about Spotify: It feels like a version of iTunes that contains (just about) every song in the world (no Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Keys, etc.).

Now that Spotify runs apps, users have even more ways to burn through that ten hours. They don’t have to think of what they want to hear; for inspiration, they can check out what Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, or their friends recommend, all within the free desktop app.

Will Spotify free riders stay interested with the new limits? And more importantly, given that Spotify’s music licenses reportedly must be renegotiated in two years, will these limits convince more people to upgrade to a premium version so that Spotify can cover what it owes labels and publishers?

Unfortunately, this is one of those annoying articles that ends with the sentiment, “only time will tell,” because there’s really no way to know how these limits will affect Spotify. Starting next week, we’ll begin to find out.

Update: A Spotify spokeswoman sent over a statement on the matter:

“All new Spotify users – both in the US and in all other countries in which Spotify is available – are able to enjoy an unlimited free service for their first six months. As we have previously stated, after a Spotify user has enjoyed free unlimited listening for six months, some changes to the free service will come into effect. We will have more information on these changes in due course. Spotify Premium and Spotify Unlimited remain unaffected.”

(Thanks, @JHerskowitz)

  • http://twitter.com/SgtCommanderH Rob Hanbury

    Time for Slacker Radio to reign supreme. 

  • http://twitter.com/br14nw BrianW

    Black Keys are there. Just missing the new album. 

  • http://twitter.com/barton71 Craig McLeod

    You just know that when the licences are up for renegotiation, the record labels are going to squeeze Spotify so tightly that they will be unable to offer any kind of meaningful free service, and they wont just want a cut of subscriber fees, they will be looking for a cut of advertising revenue from which ever free service Spotify can offer and a pay per play fee from Spotify. 

    A cartel by any other name is still a cartel.