If you thought Spotify had free listening before, well, now it’s extra free.

spotify - no more limits 275wConfusion swirls in the online music scene as competitive warfare escalates and the major players prepare for major battles in 2014.

Beats Music is launching next Tuesday, aiming squarely at Spotify‘s subscription business. Spotify set the stage in December by freeing previous listening restrictions that applied to non-paying users. (That side of the business is ad-supported.) “Spotify is now free on mobile, tablet, and computer,” was the liberating catch-phrase.

Today, Spotify makes more news by revealing a restriction most people didn’t know about, then lifting it. A legacy restraint applied to desktop users (computers, not phones or tablets) that kicked in after six months, capping the listening to a certain number of hours. (The actual number is not disclosed in today’s announcement.)

So — free. Really free. We think. We really think this is a tactical press blast that has little meaning to most people, and serves to emphasize that Spotify absolutely does not require any payment to enjoy an unending buffet of juicy musical goodness. Unlike — oh, to pick a service out of a hat — the incoming subscription-only Beats Music.

All snark aside, Spotify is making an important differentiation. Free, ad-supported music is really what got streaming music consumption off the ground in the U.S., when Spotify expanded its European operations in 2011. It’s fair to say that the “access model” (opposing the “ownership model”) wouldn’t be a music-biz meme today without Spotify’s disruption of America’s music-buying habit. So, while Beats hopes to motivate subscription sign-ups to its own differentiating features, Spotify reminds the world that you don’t need a credit card to listen.

Brad Hill


  1. It’s still not free to use on my tv on roku though… wish they would free that up

  2. whilst attending a party I heard about Spotify, It was being talked about quite hotly wether it was free or not.
    That’s what made me ask about it, from what I have read these last few minutes
    it could indeed be free. am I right?

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