Spotify set to launch limited free streaming on mobile

Steven Loeb · December 6, 2013 · Short URL:

Until now, non-paying users only had access to the Pandora-like Spotify Radio

The ability to stream what you want, when you want it, is what separates Spotify from the competition, especially Pandora.

While the best that a lot of other streaming players can do is create stations with music that is kind of like what you actually wanted to listen to, Spotify was where I went to find something specific. Be it either an album I'd always meant to listen to, or to listen to a song everyone said was really good.

On mobile, though, Spotify only allows its paying members to access music on demand. Its non-paying members only get access to Spotify Radio, which is, essentially, Pandora.

Now Spotify is finally planning to release a free, all access version of its music streaming service on mobile, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. The company has even reached a deal with Sony, Universal and Warner to use their recordings on the new app, sources said.

Before you get too excited, though, there is a catch: the music companies are also stipulating that number of songs users will get to play will have to be limited. And once the user reaches that limit, whatever it is, the app will revert to the old model of creating stations based on preference.

How exactly this will new free tier work is not yet clear. Will people only get a certain number of songs total before they get stuck with Spotify Radio again? Will they get a certain amount per week or per month?

Giving people access to more music will obviously be good for attracting more users, but hopefully Spotify will allow for a good amount of on demand material, because, honestly, it will otherwise be pretty difficult to see the difference between this and what users were already getting. 

A Spotify spokesperson would not comment on the report.

Its easy to see why Spotify previously limited its non-paying users: the idea was to get them to sign up for the service on desktop, then make them pay to get the same access on mobile. But I think the idea annoyed people more than anything.

Doing this took away the only reason anyone would choose Spotify in the first place. If you were not going to pay, why choose Spotify over Pandora when they were offering the exact same thing? Spotify seems to have finally to realized how it has been hurting itself by trying to pull one over on its users. 

This news comes just a few weeks after Spotify raised $250 million in new funding at a $4 billion valuation. The round brought the company's total funding to $538 million. 

Spotify has more than 24 million active users and over six million paid subscribers. Since its launch in 2008, Spotify says it’s driven more than $500 million to rights holders and expects to drive another $500 million in 2013.

(Image source:

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs



Joined Vator on

Pandora, the leading internet radio service, gives people music they love
anytime, anywhere, through a wide variety of connected devices: laptop and
desktop computers, smartphones, connected BluRay players, connected TVs,
etc. Personalized stations launch instantly with the input of a single “seed” –
a favorite artist, song or genre. The Music Genome Project®, a deeply
detailed, hand-built musical taxonomy, powers the personalization or
Pandora. Using this musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback
Pandora crafts personalized stations from the more than 800,000 songs that
have been analyzed since the project began in January 2000.
More than 75 million people throughout the United States listen to
personalized radio stations for free on Pandora through their PCs, mobile
phones and devices such as the iPad, and connected in-house devices
ranging from TVs to set-top boxes to Blu-Ray players. Mobile technology has
been a significant factor in the growth and popularity of Pandora, starting
with the introduction of the Apple app store for the iPhone in the summer of
2008. Pandora instantly became one of the most top downloaded apps and
today, according to Nielsen, is one of the top five most popular apps across
all smartphone platforms.

Pandora is free, simple and, thanks to connectivity, available everywhere
consumers are – at the office, at home, in the car and all points in between.
In 2009 the Company announced that Pandora would be incorporated into
the dashboard in Ford cars via SYNC technology; GM has already followed in
announcing plans to integrate Pandora into its vehicles and Mercedes-Benz
introduced their Media Interface Plus device that works with the
free Pandora iPhone app to provide direct control of Pandora from in-dash
stereo controls. This was all great news for the millions of Pandora listeners
who had been plugging their smartphones into car dashboards to listen to
personalized stations while driving. More than 50 percent of radio listening
happens in the car, making it a crucial arena for Pandora.

Today tens of millions of people have a deeply personal connection with
Pandora based on the delight of personalized radio listening and discovery.
These highly engaged listeners reinforce the value Pandora provides to: 1)
musicians, who have found in Pandora a level playing field on which their
music has a greater chance of being played than ever before; 2) advertisers,
who benefit from the multi-platform reach of Pandora, as well as its best
practices in targeting consumers for specific campaigns; 3) the music
industry, which has found in Pandora a highly effective distribution channel;
and 4) automobile and consumer electronics device manufacturers, who have
noted that incorporating Pandora into their product makes it more valuable
to consumers.

Pandora continues to focus on its business in the United States. The radio
arena has never been hotter, thanks to technology that enables radio to be
personalized to the individual and more accessible than ever before. Right
now millions of people listen to Pandora in the United States and we hope
someday to bring Pandora to billions of people around the world.

• 2000 – Tim Westergren’s Music Genome Project begins.
• 2005 – Pandora launches on the web.
• 2008 – Pandora app becomes one of the most consistently downloaded
apps in the Apple store.
• 2009 – Ford announces Pandora will be incorporated into car
dashboard. Alpine and Pioneer begin selling aftermarket radios that
connect to consumers’ iPhones and puts the control and command of
Pandora into the car dashboard.
• 2010 – Pandora is present on more than 200 connected consumer
electronics devices ranging from smartphones to TVs to set-top boxes
to Blu-ray players and is able to stream visual, audio, and interactive
advertising to computers, smartphones, iPads, and in-home connected