Spotify has announced two new packages, named “Spotify Unlimited” and “Spotify Open”, the latter of which makes a free version of the music steaming service available again without the need for an invite.
Until recently, there were only two options: “Spotify Free”, available as a desktop application only and ad-supported. And “Spotify Premium”, which offers higher bit-rate streams, no adverts, and the ability to access the service – including caching tracks for offline playback – on both the desktop and mobile client, all for £9.99 per month.
As already mentioned, the new Spotify Open tier doesn’t require users to obtain an invite. In contrast, Spotify Free still requires new users to have an invitation, just as when it first launched. In the early days, the company was doling out invitations faster than their users could pass them on. Invitations are now only issued to Premium users on a per-payment basis. This has introduced great scarcity and demand for access to Spotify. However, while Spotify Open is just that – open to anybody to signup, presuming they are located in one of the supported countries – not only is it ad-supported, but it is limited to 20 hours of playback per month, which makes it something of a conservative initiative to bring in new users.
Spotify Unlimited is a new intermediate pay-for service, priced at £4.99 a month. Unlimited offers an ad-free service that can used abroad for an unlimited time, just like the Premium service (whereas Open & Free users can only listen abroad for 14 days). The ability to download tracks and use the mobile client are still reserved for the £9.99 a month Premium service, as is their higher quality streams.
Spotify recently introduced new features into their desktop client. In an attempt to make Spotify the desktop user’s one-stop application for music, it can now read any locally stored music, such as CD-rips and downloads bought from on-line stores. In our testing, the local music library support is reasonable, but the user interface needs to mature before it can replace other established desktop music players. Spotify also introduced social networking, allowing users to post favourite content to Twitter and Facebook; and send recommendations to other Spotify users.
It can be argued that Spotify should stop withholding the mobile client as a premium perk. Ten pounds per month is a considerable sum to be paying. As mainstream users spend more time on their mobiles than their desktop computers, surely adding ad-supported mobile users would be better than not?