March 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Surprise: Spotify Never Imposed U.S. Limits (and Extended Free Listening Based on Science)

Like other unlimited music services, Spotify lets you share playlists with friends.

Remember those listening limits Spotify was supposed to implement on its free version starting in January, when and countless other publications reported that the “free listening party” was over?

They were never actually put into place. And apparently, nobody noticed.

Yes, we have confirmed that Spotify never limited plays or hours on the U.S. version of its free service. The press failed to realize this, despite plenty of attention being paid to the limit’s approach, even after Spotify extended unlimited free listening earlier today. Shame on us.

However, Spotify did limit its European version to five plays of any one song, leading to an interesting decision on the part of not only Spotify but its label partners: to extend the free listening party in America.

They did so because data showed the limit to be counter-productive for both parties. European users who were denied the chance to play a song in Spotify for the sixth time tended to seek out other free sources for music rather than deciding to start paying for the service.

As such, Spotify and its label partners removed the five-listens-per-song limit in Europe (where the ten-hours-per-month limit remains). And, again, it never implemented either limit in the States.

“This particular [five plays per song] limit did more harm than good in terms of generating subscribers to Spotify Premium and was detrimental to the effort to fight piracy,” Spotify chief content officer Ken Parks told on Thursday. “This was all data-driven, and I think what it shows is the confidence that our content partners have in our model and our ability to monetize users and convert them from piracy.”

Parks wouldn’t rule out imposing limits on Spotify’s free, unlimited U.S. version in the future, but added, “We certainly hope that we never have to impose limits like that again.”

So, why didn’t anyone realize the listening restrictions were never put into place in the free version? Personally, I’ve been using the Premium version lately, which is my excuse. Plenty of other members of the press likely are too. Still, it’s fairly amazing that for three months, nobody noticed that these much-ballyhooed limits never actually surfaced.

See also:’s somewhat recent interview with Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek.

  • dt

    Uh, we noticed, we just didn’t want to say anything for fear they would start imposing the limits.  Thanks a lot, jackass.

  • Robert Andrews

    “They were never actually put into place. And apparently, nobody noticed.” I noticed:

  • spotidj ♫

    The five plays limit is still active in the UK as far as I know.

    Spotify has not implemented limits in the U.S. for obvious reasons, Spotify still isn’t catching on as expected.