Get ready for a day of ructions. Spotify is making a big change to its free music service in Europe, with new restrictions that kick in six months after users register. They’ll now be limited to 10 hours of total listening time a month – down from the 20-hour limit in the current Spotify Open service. What’s more, they’ll only be able to play individual tracks five times ever, before they are made greyed out and unplayable. Paying to upgrade to a premium account will remove both restrictions, as well as bringing the existing benefits such as mobile access and higher-quality streams. Spotify says the changes will mainly affect heavier free users, and claims the average user won’t see the limit on plays for seven out of 10 tracks. The company is also planning a 30-day free trial of its Premium service in May for all users. ”We’ve got to balance a number of priorities,” says chief content officer Ken Parks. “Chief amongst those priorities is to keep the free service, which is what makes Spotify unique, and what you’re seeing here is a balance of these priorities. We’ve shown that the model is doing extremely well, but as things stand we need to tweak the service to ensure everyone has access to legal music in the long term.” The barely-veiled subtext: these changes are down to rightsholder demands – a necessary step for Spotify to keep its free service running. Today will see plenty of kneejerk reactions from users and industry figures alike. But it all comes down to a big gamble: will these new restrictions boost Spotify’s conversion rate to an extent that outweighs the negative impact of users turning back to piracy or unlicensed sites? We’ll have more on this in tonight’s Music Ally Report. Source: Music Ally Blog
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