Spotify challenges Pandora with free radio on iPhone, iPad

By on June 19, 2012, 11:30 AM

Music streaming service Spotify has announced it is adding a free radio feature to its iOS app that will compete with the likes of Pandora, Slacker and Songza. Previously only available to desktop users, the feature will enable both free and premium Spotify users to create unlimited radio stations based on specific artists, songs, playlists or albums and stream them from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Those under the $9.99 a month plan won’t hear any commercials and will be able to skip as many songs as they like, while free users will hear two to three minutes of commercials each hour and can skip about six songs every 60 minutes. Also, although Spotify Radio will be available for free and premium users in the US, it will be limited to premium subscribers only in the remaining fourteen markets Spotify supports.

The company is betting that free, ad-supported radio will attract users who can turn into paying subscribers later. The model is also cheaper to operate because it doesn’t require agreements with record companies — which Spotify has for its on demand service — thus royalty rates are lower and set by Congress.

Spotify has about 3 million paying subscribers globally and 10 million registered users worldwide as of November 2011.  Pandora, which was founded in 2005 and has yet to expand outside of the US, has 150 million registered users with 49 million listening within the last 30 days.

User Comments: 4

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Guest said:

Well I hope it comes with better song selection. I've tried the radio on the desktop many of times and it always ends up playing garbage I never heard before. I always seem to come back to Pandora which like magic never playing anything I don't know or least is related to what I am listening too. Don't get me wrong I love Spotify but the radio sucks.

Jos Jos said:

That used to be the case but it has really improved since they began using Echo Nest's technology to power the radio feature, IMO

Guest said:

I would like to know what they will be doing about the Android users that are getting shafted here.

Guest said:

Yeah, I don't see Spotify radio as much of a threat to Pandora. I listen to free Spotify, but their radio -still- sucks. The selection on Pandora is far deeper than what one can get on Spotify. Just as an example (and it's only one - I could easily name a dozen), try finding Frank Zappa on Spotify. All you get are "tribute" songs by other artists. Pandora, on the other hand, has a ton of original Zappa, as well as Dweezil, and even Moon Unit's small contribution. This is just an example - I've struck out plenty of times looking for artists on Spotify. I primarily use Spotify to play "program" music that has to be played in order (e.g., classical music). Sort of like a free iTunes. I -pay- to use Pandora (which is more than 3- cheaper than Spotify's basic for-pay service BTW), but I doubt I'll ever pay $120/year to listen to "tribute albums."

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