After endless delays and skyrocketed anticipation, Spotify has finally come to the U.S. The free, ad-supported music streaming service has been available in many European countries for years, but has only just arrived on U.S shores due to an incredible amount of legal wrangling from American record labels.
The service allows subscribers to listen free to any song they like, on demand. Audio ads are served every few tracks for the free version of the offering, and you’ll also have to contend with banner ads in the (free) desktop software.
To join the free version of Spotify, first you’ll need an invite. Sign up for either the monthly Premium or Unlimited plans and you kick off the service immediately. The Premium subscription, priced at $5 per month, gives listeners as much ad-free music as they like. The Unlimited subscription ($10) adds offline storage of tracks and lets you use the Spotify client on your mobile device.
Those who swear by Spotify will point to its instant quickness, where even on a 3G connection (using the iPhone app), the response is almost immediate
Another feature, Spotify Social, allows for track sharing, as well as subscription to the playlists of other Spotify users.
Here are the key features as run down by the company:
- Spotify gives you on-demand access (with no buffering) to a library of more than 15 million songs. What’s more, you can import the MP3s you already own with just one click, to create a mighty music player. And with Spotify, there’s no need to skip tracks you don’t like. Why? Because you choose the music in the first place.
- It’s super simple to create and manage all your playlists with Spotify – our users have made and shared over 250 million of them so far. You can also discover the most popular playlists on sites like www.sharemyplaylists.com and www.bbcify.com, or use clever sites like www.spotiseek.com to create playlists of new music based on your favorite artists.
- Music is made for sharing. Simply drag and drop music to your Spotify friends, or share with them via Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS. See your friends’ top tracks, artists and playlists via their Spotify profiles, subscribe to their playlists and drop tracks into their Spotify inbox. How very sociable.
- Take your music with you by installing Spotify on your cellphone or iPod Touch. Wirelessly sync your MP3 playlists to listen offline and subscribe to Spotify Premium to combine your own music with access to our catalogue of over 15 million tracks. It’s the perfect music player.
“We’re launching in partnership with some of the biggest and most pioneering brands in the world, who all want to help us spread the good word of Spotify,” says Ek on the company blog. “Our exclusive launch partners are Coca-Cola and Sprite, Chevrolet, Motorola, Reebok and Sonos. These brands will be launching innovative campaigns in partnership with Spotify in the coming weeks and months.”
“We believe that music is the most social thing there is and that’s why we’ve built the best social features into Spotify for easy sharing and the ultimate in music discovery,” he added. “Even if you aren’t a total music freak, chances are you have a friend who is and whose taste you admire. I’m looking forward to connecting with some of you guys in the US through Spotify and discovering some cool new tracks.”
For those without massive music libraries which would make a cloud storage service like Google Music a better fit, Spotify offers a fantastic alternative to the likes of Pandora, Last.fm and beyond.