MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE Spotify has announced that it will be imposing tighter limits on the use of its free service.
Spotify offers access to its music library through an ad-supported free service alongside paid subscriptions, but has announced plans to introduce limits on the number of times tracks can be played and the total listening time of free accounts. Spotify says that the changes will mainly affect "heavier Spotify Free and Open users", as it claims most users use the service to discover music. The firm added that its paid subscription services will be left untouched.
The changes to Spotify's free service will come into affect six months after account creation. Those who signed up before 1 November 2010 will be able to play each track a maximum of five times for six months. Users who signed up after 1 November 2010 will see the changes implemented six months after their sign-up date.
The biggest change to Spotify's free accounts is a 10 hour per month listening limit that will be imposed on all free accounts six months after they are created. Spotify says that 10 hours is good for 200 tracks or 20 albums.
Spotify said it had to impose these limits but said that "it's vital that we continue offering an on-demand free service to you". It added, "Above all, this means we can continue making Spotify available to all in the long-term."
The announcement has polarised user opinion with many users leaving comments saying they will stop using the service. It is surprising that this announcement comes as Spotify gears up for its US launch, which should deliver big advertising revenue.
Spotify must be betting that the drop in advertising revenue from free users listening for only 10 hours a month will be offset by an increase in subscriptions. If not it could become the Napster of music streaming. µ