Spotify Cuts Free Music Listening Time by Half

The popularity of online music service Spotify has prompted the company to cut back on its free service. Starting May 1, Spotify will limit users to 10 hours per month, among other things.

“Making Spotify available to millions across Europe has seen the service become incredibly popular. People are listening to more music and from a wider range of artists than ever before, and are giving up on piracy, which is exactly what we hoped would happen,” execs said in a blog post. “So it’s vital that we continue offering an on-demand free service to you and millions more like you, but to make that possible we have to put some limits in place going forward.”

Users will still have access to the current, 20-hour limit for the first six months. But starting on May 1, anyone who signed up before November 1, 2010 will be restricted to 10 hours of listening time per month, which Spotify said is equivalent to about 200 songs or 20 albums. Additionally, users will only be able to play each track five times. Those who signed up for Spotify after November 1 will see these limits go into place after six months.

The company’s Unlimited and Premium services will be unaffected. In May, Spotify will increase its Spotify Premium free trial from seven days to 30; more details on that will be released soon.

The company said the changes will probably only affect heavy Spotify Free and Open users. “Most of you use Spotify to discover music—on average over 50 new tracks per month, even after a year. Plus, the average user won’t reach the limit on plays for 7 out of 10 tracks, after a year of using Spotify,” Spotify said.

Spotify launched in October 2008 and reached 1 million users by March 2009. By last month, however, the site had signed on 1 million paid subscribers.

Spotify features include the ability to: search, browse, and play millions of tracks; stream over Wi-Fi or 2.5/3G; access offline playlists; on-the-fly sync; a what’s new tab; wireless sync of your local files to your phone; and the ability to tag favorites into a special list.

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