3 and Spotify point to the future of music purchasing

hero-spotify-3UK 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.


last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

One Response to “3 and Spotify point to the future of music purchasing”

  1. greedoe says:

    ordered this deal on the weekend. just waiting for phone delivery. managed to get the £99 upfront charge waived and I got recommend a friend, so another £30 back.

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