“Let’s get to today’s announcements,” said founder Daniel Ek after a quick intro at the Spotify Event in New York today. There were three main headlines, each one certain to make people happy.
- Free listening on any device
- Expansion to new countries
- Exclusive addition of entire Led Zeppelin catalog
The free-listening piece is the most complicated. Spotify’s user proposition has always contained two tiers — free and subscription. It still does. But starting today, the free tier is far more usable on tablets and smartphones, involving unlimited listening. “The devices we use and the way we use them has changed rapidly,” Ek declared. “Smartphones and tablets are replacing computers at home. It doesn’t make sense to differentiate them anymore.”
In describing the new mobile accessibility, Ek put a focus on Shuffle as a key use of the service. “Among the 4.5-billion hours of listening, one thing stood out. Shuffle. We decided to base our new service based on Shuffle. Today we are announcing free Spotify on any device.”
On a phone, non-paying users can call up any artist in the Spotify catalog, press Shuffle, and hear a lean-back, suffled stream of that artist’s entire catalog. Adding tracks to playlists is likewise unlocked in the new free-mobile service.
Ek’s grandiose bottom line: “Best free music experience in the history of the smartphone.” We think that’s a legitimate argument to make, even if loyalists to other Internet radio systems might counter the argument.
The new tablet app provides an even more liberate unpaid experience that includes Spotify’s jukebox ability to select songs on-demand. Ek’s rationale: “The devices we use and the way we use them has changed rapidly. Tablets are replacing computers at home. It doesn’t make sense to differentiate them anymore.”
The Led Zeppelin deal is important not only as a new dimension in the catalog, but as an antidote to anti-Spotify outbursts from some well-known recording artists. Led Zeppelin’s entire discography will be introduced to Spotify incrementally, starting today with the band’s first two albums, both released in 1969. By the end of Sunday, all 14 albums will be in the service. “I want to personally thank [the band members] for having faith in us,” Ek said.
The expansion of Spotify’s global footprint brings its presence to 55 countries.