With subscription services on the way from YouTube and Beats Music, as well as already-existing platforms like Rdio, Microsoft’s Xbox Music and Sony Music Unlimited, Spotify is hoping to remain the leader of the on-demand music streaming services with some major developments.
First, Spotify announced Tuesday that nonsubscribing members are no longer limited to just Internet radio on their mobile devices, but can access Spotify for free with advertisements on smartphones and tablets. Spotify also announced that it is expanding to 20 more countries.
Finally, Spotify announced that it will be the first and only service to allow on-demand streaming of the entire catalog from rock band Led Zeppelin, one of the most-successful acts in modern music.
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“Today we’re giving people the best free music experience in the history of the smartphone and the tablet,” Daniel Ek, CEO and founder of Spotify, said at a press event in New York City. “Whether you’re going to the gym, or having a party with friends. Just sit back and let Spotify serve you great music for every moment of your life.”
The new free streaming features come with a bit of caveats for smartphones users. While users will now be able to access playlists they or their friends have created and search for artists, they can't select specific tracks or albums. Artist catalogs and playlists can only be played on shuffle.
Tablet users will get the same free Spotify experience as desktop users get: free, ad-supported access to Spotify’s collection of more than 20 million tracks.
“Unlike mobile devices, it turns out that tablets are becoming the new desktops,” Spotify said in a statement. “So starting today, iOS and Android tablet users can enjoy the same great experience that they’ve grown to love on their computer. Any song or album, on-demand at your fingertips.”
A Spotify spokesman told International Business Times free users will be limited to about six song skips per hour, which he said was industry standard, and that free users can expects about two minutes of advertising for every hour of music.
Spotify told IBT that it noticed that most new users accessed the service for the first time through their mobile devices. With the new features, Spotify is hoping to increase the engagement with the service among new users and provide more incentive to subscribe to the premium service.
The new features are available starting Thursday, but Spotify will be letting the Led out over the next several days. “Led Zeppelin I” and “Led Zeppelin II,” two albums released by the band in 1969, are available immediately. Spotify will release two albums per day through Saturday, then release the rest of Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song/Atlantic catalog on Sunday.
Spotify said that that most people are already familiar with Led Zeppelin and probably have a favorite album or song. By highlighting two albums a day, Spotify is hoping people will dive into the music and listen to the albums in the order that Led Zeppelin released them.
Led Zeppelin -- a British blues-rock band made up of singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham on drums -- has sold more than 300 million albums since 1968. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. The band is also known for being protective of the rights to its music, and Spotify will be the first time Led Zeppelin’s music is available for on-demand streaming.
The 20 new countries means that Spotify is now available in a total of 55 markets. The service launched in 2008 and now has more than 24 million active users.
Full disclosure: the author is a paying Spotify subscriber and avid Led Zeppelin fan that will be soaking up the additions over the next week.