Exclusive: Spotify drops its five-play track cap in the UK


spotify-logoAs of today, streaming music service Spotify will no longer restrict its free users in the UK from playing individual tracks more than five times.

Removing the cap – which was introduced in April 2011 – brings the UK into line with most other Spotify markets, since Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain had the cap removed in March 2012.

Spotify will announce the UK change in a blog post and email to users later this morning. What hasn’t changed is the time limit for free users in the UK: 10 hours a month, as in most of those other countries.

What’s interesting are the outliers though: the US, Australia and New Zealand have no track caps or time limits on free users at all, while France still has both restrictions.

France, remember, is the country where Universal Music famously sued Deezer in 2011 (and lost) after that service balked at the label’s desire to introduce restrictions on free usage.

Spotify is surely lobbying labels to ditch its 10-hour limits everywhere in 2013, but today’s UK change indicates that rightsholders remain happy at the service’s 25% conversion rate from free to paying users.

Spotify reportedly wants to go even further with its free music offering, bringing its Pandora-style free mobile radio service from the US to other countries.

It’s a fair question to wonder whether the US – where Spotify has no limits on free usage including mobile radio – is a template for the service elsewhere in the world. We suspect the desire is there on Spotify’s part, but it has to convince rightsholders in the individual territories of the model’s merits.

Story amended at 7.50am to reflect that the five-play track caps weren’t monthly, but ever

Written by: Stuart Dredge