Spotify Goes Freemium On Tablets, Launches Free Shuffle Product On Smartphones

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has just announced that Spotify is offering free access to its streaming music catalog on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets for the first time since launch. The service’s mobile access offering will be different depending on device. Tablets will have access to the same freemium experience users are familiar with to on the desktop. Meanwhile, Spotify will offer a free “Shuffle” service – basically a sort of Internet radio – for Android and iOS smartphones.

The announcement confirms our scoop last week when we discovered that Spotify would launch limited free mobile access with certain limitations. The Wall Street Journal also previously reported that Spotify had negotiated a free mobile tier with the major record labels.

What is Spotify Shuffle? At this point it’s a lot like Pandora, iTunes Radio, or other station-based streaming services, but Spotify’s Shuffle product gives you more control over the playlist. In other words, if you choose to play Lady Gaga songs, you’ll get only Lady Gaga music instead of 20 percent Gaga and 80 percent Gaga-like music. There are also Songza-style playlists – Christmas, Friday Night, etc. – that Spotify will curate.

Users can access all of their precompiled playlists in shuffle mode, or use the free-standing shuffle product. However, you cannot perform unlimited search and listen queries. All the new, free services are available starting today.

Originally, Spotify asked users to pay $4.99 for an ad-free web experience and $9.99 to listen across multiple devices beyond the desk top. The top tier also came with offline access.

In the new model, Spotify will allow freemium access on tablets and a very limited, free product on mobile. The new free products will still include ads, just like Spotify’s desktop product.

Of around 26 million total users, only six million of them are paying customers. But times have changed since Spotify announced their desktop-first business model.

Ek also announced twenty new markets, expanding the app availability from 35 markets to 55 markets. All of the new territories, mostly in South America, will have access to the newly-announced mobile products.

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