Spotify Limits Free Music Ahead Of U.S. Launch

The Swedish-based online service caps free listening at 10 hours per month.


BERLIN -- Online music service Spotify is halving the amount of free music that users can listen.

The Swedish-based streaming service announced Friday that, starting next month, users of its free service will be limited to 10 hours listening per month, half the current amount, and will only be allowed to listen to tracks five times.

The news, which has angered many of Spotify's fans, comes as the company finalizes plans for a U.S. launch of its service.

Analysts have speculated Spotify's new less-free model may be a concession to U.S. record labels worried about licensing their songs to a mostly-free online service.

But Spotify has long been under pressure to convert more of its freeloading users into fee-payers. The company claims upwards of 6.6 million registered users but only about 1 million of them pay for the privilage.

Spotify's free service is ad-supported but is still a money-loser. But by reducing its free offering, Spotify risks offending its user base.

Many complained on the company's blog, saying they would now move back to pirating music online.

"Bye, bye, Spotify" wrote one disgruntled user.

Others support the move. "Spotify's premium service costs the equivalent of one CD a month. One! Why are you complaining?," wrote one fan backing the company's decision.