Spotify launched in 2008 in Sweden and quickly spread to Finland, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It boasts 15 million tracks from the major record labels, as well as noting that 10,000 tracks are being added daily.
Basic membership of Spotify allows a user up to 20 hours of streaming music per month for the first six months -- 10 hours of music per month after that. Additionally, a song can only be listened to five times in that same month. As of now, the service is invite only -- if you wish for it to remain free. There are, however, two different levels of paid monthly accounts -- the $4.99 "Unlimited" plan and the $9.99 "Premium" plan. The former does away with ads and time limits, the latter allows for mobile access and offline privileges, allowing a user to listen to a saved playlist without Internet access. Those users eager to use Spotify right now can access the service by paying for either plan.
Through a bit of Internet savvy and some dumb luck, I have secured a Spotify account. The interface is rather appealing and easily manageable. The ads aren't too intrusive and the music collection is as advertised -- 15 million songs and counting. It took about 30 minutes for it to recognize and import my music collection, which is just shy of 300 GB. The audio quality is good, nothing I can really notice negatively at this time -- "Premium" users are supposed to gain access to higher quality audio (320 kbps Ogg Vorbis), thus suggesting free users have a lower quality audio (160 kbps Ogg Vorbis) for the time being.
My main interest point is seeing how Spotify works from a computer different from my own. As of right now, Spotify is new and exciting -- I don't remember the last time the Internet was abuzz about something like Spotify. It should garner a pretty widespread interest from U.S. music lovers in no time.
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