Spotify announced today that they will limit the Spotify Free account from May 1st in a few different ways. The reason behind all this is naturally to further monetise and convert those using Spotify Free to the premium accounts. At the end of March, the company also announced, as part of its move to further monetise the user base, to give all new premium subscribers a free 7-day test of the service before billing anything.
In the blog post by Daniel Ek, the company announced it will limit Spotify Free as of May 1st for those who sign-up during or after the date. Those who have signed up on or before November 1st 2010, will see these changes also come into effect on May 1st. Those who've signed up after November 1st, will see these changes come into effect after six months of their membership.
The changes are mainly that you're able to listen to any track in the catalogue a total of 5 times with a monthly limitation on the service at 10 hours of streaming. In essence, this will keep the service free for those who want to search for new music in the future as well, but will pretty much disable the possibility to take full advantage of the service in a free way.
Is this a harsh move on Spotify's behalf? No. Spotify is a business, trying to make a living through its service. Will this drive users away from the service? Most likely, but then again it will drive a lot of users towards the premium service as well. Even after this, Spotify's Free service is one of the best free music services out there, considering the size of its catalogue.
One of the things I do hope however, is that this isn't Spotify bowing to the demands of the music industry too much. The reason being that the company itself knows the digital market a lot better than the music industry. If it wasn't so, the service would have already been created by the record labels themselves.
Oh, and there are a few really good services I personally gladly pay for. Spotify's easily one of them and as of writing this article, I've got it playing in the background.