Online music-streaming service Spotify yesterday launched a free music service for smart phones and tablets, as it tries to hook a fast-growing group of users keen to stream tunes on their mobile devices. Spotify offers free music on desktop computers with advertising, but customers previously had to pay for on-demand connection on their mobile devices. Its new service will allow listeners to choose the tracks they want to hear for free - with commercial interruptions - in the hope that people will upgrade to subscriptions.
Spotify has about 24 million active users around the world of which 6 million pay to listen to music without advertising.
As smartphones and tablets mushroom, they have become choice devices to listen to music, even in the home. Streaming music has soared in popularity, but competition is fierce with rival Pandora, Apple's iTunes Radio, Sirius XM, Rdio and a handful of smaller players all battling it out for listeners.
Revenues from mobile advertising at Pandora, which dominates U.S. music streaming, have been rising as more people tune in on their smartphones. Spotify plans to air an ad every three or four songs, similar to the frequency of advertising spots on Spotify's free desktop service.