Spotify today officially announced a deal with record labels Sony, Universal and Warner that will finally enable a free version of their streaming music service for smartphones and tablets. The move allows the company to step up the competition against rivals iTunes Radio and Pandora which are already free on mobile devices.
Spotify’s mobile streaming offering will be ad-supported, just like it is on desktops, but with a few key differences. On tablets you get the same basic experience as desktop users with the ability to create playlists and start any song on-demand as long as you can endure a few ads every now and then. On smartphones, the free tier forgoes on-demand streaming in favor of a “Shuffle Play” button for your playlists and collections.
That still affords you a bit more control over the content played compared to its station-based streaming rivals, which randomly play songs relative to a specific track, artist, or genre you specify. Moreover, Spotify mobile on smartphones still lets you create new playlists and subscribe to Songza-style themed lists curated by others.
Until now Spotify only allowed non-paying members to listen to tunes through their desktop client, while mobile users had to subscribe to the premium tier at $9.99 per month in order to access music on their phones.
Aside from announcing the free version of Spotify for mobile devices, the company also said it’s adding Led Zeppelin's entire catalog to its library and will retain exclusive streaming rights. They also shared some updated figures for the service, which now counts over 6 million paying subscribers, over 24 million active users, over 20 million songs available globally, over 1 billion playlists created, and over $1 billion paid out to right holders.
Last but not least, some good news for music fans around the globe. The company is continuing its international push by expanding to 20 new markets -- for a total of 55. The full list now includes Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, Uruguay and USA.