UK carrier 3 has teamed up with Spotify to offer a mobile tariff that includes a premium subscription, no ads and mobile usage, for the popular European (US launch pending) music streaming service. While the offer in itself is news worthy – it’s quite an attractive deal (more below) – perhaps more interesting is that the model may well point to the future of paid-for music.
Prior to 3’s offering, those wanting to utilize Spotify’s service on their handset were required to take out a premium subscription costing £10 per month in the UK. That’s quite high when competing against “free”, such as ad-supported offerings (including Spotify’s own, which prohibits mobile access) or illegal file downloads and the like.
However, by burying the premium subscription within a user’s monthly mobile tariff the service begins to enter the needed “feels like free” territory that self-proclaimed media futurist Gerd Leonhard has been talking about for years.
For £35 a month over 24 months, alongside an upfront fee of £99 for the handset (the very nice Android-driven HTC Hero – see my review) here’s what 3 are offering:
- Unlimited Spotify Premium for 24 months (worth £240 at the non-bundled price of £10 per-month)
- 750 minutes to other mobiles
- Unlimited texts
- Unlimited 3 to 3 calls
- Unlimited email, internet browsing and Facebook
- Free Skype to Skype calls
Aside from paying an upfront cost for the HTC Hero, I think that’s a pretty good deal. My only real reservation is that I don’t like the move towards 24 month contracts, not because I particularly like to switch carriers but, being the early adopter I am, I like to upgrade my handset as soon as possible. On the other hand, for many users, a 24 month contract maybe a little easier to swallow while the music keeps playing. 3 have also hinted that the Hero is only the first handset to be offered with a bundled subscription to Spotify, and with a Symbian/S60 mobile app for the service just around the corner, I expect a range of Nokia phones on 3 to soon to be included.
As for the whole ‘feels like free’ mobile music space, 3 and Spotify’s offering will inevitably be compared to Nokia’s Comes With Music, which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. However, CWM doesn’t offer a free version to hook users in and utilizes DRM in a much less user-friendly way. While Spotify does employs DRM, because it’s cloud-based (either streamed or cached rather than traditional downloads), the service can much more easily be used across multiple devices, Windows PC/Mac and on supported handsets.