Spotify goes live in the U.S., free service is invite-only for now

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Spotify has officially gone live in the U.S. this morning after many months of rumors and speculation. The popular music streaming service has been available in several European countries for years, but the lack of licensing agreements with major record labels in the U.S. had kept it from hitting the other side of the Atlantic until now.

The offer is the same as in Europe, for the most part: $5 per month gets you unlimited, on-demand access to over 15 million songs, while the $10 monthly plan adds offline storage of tracks and lets you use the Spotify client on your mobile device (the Spotify iPhone app is now available in the U.S. App Store). You can opt out of either plan at any time.

There's also a free, ad-supported option in case you want to test the waters first, and it comes with unlimited streaming as well -- unlike the European offering, which was recently capped at 10 hours per month. Unfortunately for now the free option is in an invite-only beta phase so you'll have to get your email in the queue and be patient.

Four months ago, the service passed the 1 million subscriber mark, making it the biggest paid music service in the world. Besides offering instant, lag-free access to a huge music catalog, the service is also popular for its social features, which let you share tracks with friends and subscribe to the playlist of other Spotify users. It's also available on a number of third party audio devices through partnerships with Sonos and Logitech.

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