Remember when Spotify first came along? Unlimited music streaming, for no charge? No hidden sign-up fees? No annoying spammy email lists to sign up for? Only a few occasional commercial interruptions? It always seemed too good to be true.
And now we know: it was too good to be true. Spotify are cutting back on the free part, leaving us with yet another subscription-based music streaming service.
In Spotify’s 2007 mission statement, this “new music experience” - which was how they described it - was simply a way to allow users to enjoy music more. “Our service is advertising funded, so it costs you nothing to use”, they wrote, aiming to make the commercials as discrete as possible.
Back then, these guys seemed like Santa Claus unexpectedly bringing presents in July. Out of nowhere, music could be accessed for free. No hitches, snags or tricks. Just free music. But this morning, those lovely people at Spotify I once worshipped have announced that the entire structure of the service is changing. Free? Nah. They want their money now.
Spotify isn’t all bad, as they did help put piracy on hold. With the ability to stream music freely, people have had less reason to download music illegally. But they're now claiming that in order to continue providing what they have been, they have to now set specific limits on how much free music a user can consume. So now that this free streaming service is essentially going kaput, will people go back to piracy like the good ol’ days?
This new Spotify model will essentially go into effect on May 1st. Anyone who signed up before 1 November 2010 will only be able to play a track for free up to five times. They will also eventually be limited to only ten hours per month, which they equate to around 200 tracks or 20 albums. Spotify is a business, and it looks live they’ve realised that they need money to run. After revealing all of these changes, they have kindly reminded users that Spotify Unlimited and Premium services are still available, and they hope people will consider making the upgrade.
Over the years, I’ve been tempted to purchase Spotify premium. But the combination of my empty bank account and the zillions of other music streaming services offering similar packages often drew me away.
Was all this just some really long, elaborate scheme to coerce people into purchasing these paid-for options? Spotify seemed so cool back in 2007. They were the good guys. The ones who wanted to eliminate piracy, while still letting users enjoy music for free. Now they’ve just turned into another money-hungry music service.
NME Blogs on Spotify:
Jan 2009: Spotify And The 14 Best Online Music Services
Sept 2009: The Problem With Spotify
Apr 2010: The New Spotify - Great For Us, But What About The Artists?