With new competitors on the horizon and an already crowded marketplace for streaming music services, Spotify is dumping its free monthly listening time limits for all users tuning in via the web client. U.S.-based listeners could already stream all the gratis songs their ears could desire, but free listeners in many other countries were limited to 2.5 hours of tunage per week after a six-month trial.
The news will be a boon to anyone who loves to crank Spotify during the workday, although Spotify freeloaders will still have to sit through periodic ad spots. But that's a small price to pay for free, unlimited listening across Spotify's entire catalog — a catalog that has scored some big names in recent months, including Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
Spotify's time limit dump puts it on par with Pandora, which dumped its time limits for desktop users back in 2011. But rivaling Pandora's freemium model was probably not a major impetus for Spotify's limit lift.
Marching to the Beats of a different drummer
Next Tuesday, however, the Beats Music streaming service goes live, promising to "deliver the right music to you at the right time" thanks to a combination of human curators and computer algorithms.
Unlike Spotify, Beats won't offer a freemium option. Instead, after a limited free trial, Beats hopes you'll fork over $10 per month for a premium ad-free experience that can automatically tailor music selections to your tastes.
With a big marketing push behind this new competitor, now is a perfect time for Spotify to make its free option as attractive as possible.
And who knows? After a few months of freeloading, perhaps more people will be encouraged to fork over $10 a month for an ad-free experience and true on-demand listening on Spotify's mobile apps.
In fact, the hope that more people will switch from free users to paying users appears to be another reason Spotify is pushing harder into freemium territory. Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek recently confirmed to TechCrunch (via Twitter) that a combination of ads and converting freemium users to paying customers was working well enough for the company to dump its time limits.
So beware my freeloading friends: you may be sucking up the free music right now, but stick around long enough and you'll probably be shelling out $10 per month for Spotify, just like me.
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