Spotify is finally available for U.S. consumers, ending well over a year of anticipation that a deal with all four U.S. major labels was imminent. A deal with Warner Music Group was finalized Wednesday, according to sources and reports.
The company brought on some premium brands for its U.S. launch, according to an email sent out Thursday morning. Spotify's "exclusive launch partners" are Coca-Cola and Sprite, Chevrolet, Motorola, Reebok, Sonos and The Daily. The email states that these brands will "launch innovative campaigns in partnership with Spotify in the coming weeks and months."
As for the actual product, Americans are getting a predictable mix of paid and free versions - although free users will have to wait.
The service has three levels: Premium service (unlimited Web streaming with no advertisements), Unlimited service (the same as Premium, plus mobile access and offline mode for playlists) and Free (ad-supported, free streaming on the Web).
Spotify is immediately available to people who want to pay either $4.99 for the Premium service or $9.99 for the Unlimited service. But people who want the Free service need an invitation first, and Spotify is taking email addresses to hand out those invitations later. The stripped-down Spotify Free version has advertisements, does not have the radio feature and will not play through music systems such as Sonos or Squeezebox.
Details of Free accounts are not yet listed at the U.S. Spotify web site. However, Ken Parks, Chief Content Officer and head of U.S. operations, tells Billboard U.S. users will get effectively the same product as European users with one difference: initially U.S. users will not have a limit on listening hours for the first six months. Limits on free accounts went into effect in Europe in April, restricting free users to 20 hours of listening plus additional hours added each week.
U.S. consumers are not being offered the Open version, which requires no invitation and gives users 20 hours of free streaming plus additional hours of listening each week.
The U.S. version of the service appears to be exactly like the U.K. version - except for a different catalog (said to be over 15 million tracks) and different new releases showing at the home page. The iPhone and Android mobile apps also appear to be the same as the versions that have been available to U.K. users. The Spotify app is available in the U.S. iTunes store, and subscribers can follow the directions at Spotify's web site to download the app. The Android app is currently available in the Android Market.
The Spotify app was not yet in the U.S. iTunes store at press time. Subscribers must follow the directions at Spotify's web site to download the app. The Android app is currently available in the Android Market, however.
A couple of hours after the launch, Spotify founder Daniel Ek tweeted: "To my dear @Spotify team - you rock! Thanks for all the hard work. You're amazing and I'm grateful to be a part of the team."