Spotify has a few surprises for its free service users and, as luck would have it, they're not very pleasant ones. Already, the free version had seen some cuts and limitations but it's only getting worse. Free listening is now down to just 10 hours a month and, even worse, you can only listen to a tune five times for free.
"Making Spotify available to millions across Europe has seen the service become incredibly popular. People are listening to more music and from a wider range of artists than ever before, and are giving up on piracy, which is exactly what we hoped would happen," Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO, writes.
"So it’s vital that we continue offering an on-demand free service to you and millions more like you, but to make that possible we have to put some limits in place going forward," he said.
There are now two more limitations to the Spotify Free and Open services. For one, they'll only be able to listen to a song five times for free. If you're the type that listens to a tune over and over, you're out of luck.
The second limitation is that users will only get 10 hours of free listening each month, half the current 20 hours, which was already a limitation on the initial offering.
These changes only affect those that have been using the service for at least six months. New users will still get to use the service at it is today for the first six months. Paying users have nothing to worry about, these changes don't affect them in any way.
Doubtless, there will be plenty of users who won't be happy with the change. And some, perhaps many, of them will start using Spotify less and go back to free, if sometimes less legal offerings, Grooveshark, YouTube or plain piracy. Others will move to the paid tiers though.
As for why Spotify is doing this, there are some possible reasons, though the company hasn't said anything officially. One may be that it needs to cut down on costs, all this free streaming is expensive in both bandwidth and licenses.
Another reason may be that it got forced by the music labels who are trying to cut down on free streaming services altogether. Spotify is still working on launching in the US and this may be one of the stipulations.
Finally, Spotify could simply be looking to increase revenue. Most people, 90 percent, are still using the free service and the conversion rate to the paid versions could be higher.