Spotify has invited journalists to an event on 11 December to announce something new, but what? Actually, the cat’s out of the bag: the company will be adding a free tier to the mobile version of its service.
The Wall Street Journal got in first with a report: “The new ad-supported offering will allow nonpaying mobile users to play a limited number of songs on demand, but will mostly serve up music based on the user’s input, much like custom radio services such as Pandora,” it explained, while claiming all three major labels have agreed to the new features.
TechCrunch adds its own sources’ claims about the new feature, suggesting that “users won’t get unlimited on-demand access, but will be less restricted if they listen to playlists or collections they’ve previously created… The reasoning may be that Spotify sees these subsequent plays of songs users have already shown interest in as less valuable than on-demand access to what they’ve never listened to before.”
This looks likely to be the key differentiator to Pandora and iTunes Radio, although Spotify itself is declining to confirm the rumours. Something neither publication is mentioning, strangely, is that free mobile radio isn’t a new thing for Spotify in the US.
In June 2012, the company introduced a free tier for its iPhone and iPad apps in the US alone: “Starting today, all Spotify users in the US with an iPhone or iPad can tap into millions of songs for free,” the company explained at the time. “Create stations based on any song, artist, album or playlist, and let Spotify bring you one great song after another.”
This, too, was ad-supported. So the news next week is less about this being introduced, and more (we suspect) about it going global.