LOS ANGELES — For the lucky few in the U.S. who have access to Spotify’s digital music service, unlimited free play will soon be over.
The popular Swedish music service on Thursday announced that it would start limiting how much free music nonpaying subscribers can access.
Beginning May 1, listeners who don’t pay for Spotify’s premium service will be limited to 10 hours of music a month. In addition, they will be able to play a particular song only five times.
Those who pay for the premium service, 10 pounds a month in the U.K. or 10 euros elsewhere in Europe, will continue to have unlimited access to Spotify’s catalog of 10 million songs.
Spotify is technically not available in the U.S., since the Swedish music company has not been able to secure the necessary licenses from all the major record labels to operate here. A number of Americans, however, have been able to jack into the service nonetheless, either through complimentary trial accounts or by hacking their their way in.
The limits seem designed to appease major labels, which have balked at allowing Spotify to cross the pond and do business in the U.S., the world’s largest and most lucrative music market.
Spotify founder Daniel Ek, in a blog post to subscribers, tried to lessen the blow, saying that 10 hours is still “equivalent to around 200 tracks or 20 albums.” He added, “Plus, the average user won’t reach the limit on plays for seven out of 10 tracks, after a year of using Spotify. For those of you using Spotify to find new tracks to enjoy and share with friends, these changes shouldn’t get in the way of you doing that.”
The silver lining may be that Spotify’s changes could pave the way for the popular service to come to the U.S.