SPOT-ON TUNES: Swedish music service creates buzz in the States

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By Will Mahony

This past summer, a revolutionary product called “Spotify” was released in the United States, bringing perhaps the most significant development in the music world since the iPod.

Similar to iTunes, Spotify is a music streaming service that allows users to access any song on a computer or cell phone without having to purchase it. Time Magazine lauds the service as a “celestial jukebox.”

Founded in Sweden in 2008, Spotify has been wildly popular in areas of Europe for years. Release in the U.S. was delayed due to licensing disputes with major music labels.

Spotify was deemed legal because the company pays large sums for the artist catalogs from all major labels as well as many independent labels.

Currently, users need an invitation to access a limited version of Spotify in which song plays are capped at five per song, per month, and ten hours overall listening time per month.

However, the free invitation takes a while to arrive in your inbox and can be hard to come by, because you have to know someone that already has Spotify before they can send it to you.

For $5 per month, you get unrestricted access to every one of the 15 million songs in the Spotify library. And for $10 per month, you can upload any song to your phone.

Paid users can also sync Spotify with their Twitter and Facebook accounts, sharing playlists with friends and tweeting about their favorite songs.

The Spotify homepage features a ‘What’s New’ tab, showcasing new releases; a ‘Top Lists’ tab, featuring the program’s most popular tunes; as well as a ‘Feed’ tab, displaying music that has been shared amongst your friends.

Don’t want to let go of your current iTunes library? Spotify allows you to easily transfer all of your songs over to your new library with ease.

Other notable features include the ability to integrate your Spotify account with music service Last.fm, allowing you to learn which songs and artists you listen to the most and make preference-based playlists.

Spotify is even venturing into the automotive world; it recently teamed up with Ford to incorporate the program into the voice-activated systems in cars.

In the last decade, the music industry has faced challenges including a sharp decline in CD sales and the use of peer-to-peer file sharing services such as Kazaa, Limewire, and Napster, whose legality has been questioned.

In contrast, Spotify offers a safe and accessible way to get music and share it easily with friends, while providing the music industry with a more structured way of generating revenue.

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