Spotify Welcome

After what seems like an eternity, Spotify, the music service that took Europe by storm, has finally launched in the United States.

There were rumors, false starts and dashed hopes aplenty when it came to if this music service would ever come to the United States, and there was even an extended exclusive private beta for a select few people, but it never seemed assured there would be an official launch.  Whatever the issues with the record labels here was, they have now been settled and the doors have been thrown open for everyone to start joining up.  The only hitch?  Unless you're ready to pay, you may have a bit of a wait to get an invite.

According to the welcome page that residents of the U.S. are sent to, you can request an invite for the free version of the service, but if you're willing to pay for the Unlimited or Premium levels, you can get right in.  The announcement blog post of the service explains the levels in the following way:

  • Spotify Free – the unsurpassed free music service. With an invite, enjoy on-demand, buffer-free access to over 15 million songs on your computer and great social features. Manage your own music files through Spotify, and sync with your cellphone or iPod. Features occasional advertising.
  • Spotify Unlimited – all the special features of our free service, but with uninterrupted, ad-free access to Spotify on your computer. All for only $4.99 a month.
  • Spotify Premium – the top-of-the-range Spotify experience. Premium gives you access to all the music, all the time. Listen online or offline, on your computer, your cellphone and a whole heap of other devices. Enjoy enhanced sound quality and access to exclusive content, competitions and special offers. Premium costs just $9.99 a month. (That's the equivalent of a couple of fancy coffees.)

While the pricing isn't horrible, paying up before you can even test something out isn't my favorite method of gaining access to an online service, but considering the praise that has been heaped upon the service, you'd probably safe to go ahead and sign up for one of the paid versions.  I can say as one of the lucky folks who got in during the closed beta, the service is good, and I've enjoyed it, but I haven't gone as nuts for it as some others have.  I'm a huge Pandora fan which is so dead simple to use to find new music, Spotify makes you work at it a bit more and relies a lot more on sharing playlists with others.  While fun – think of them as the modern equivalent of a friend sharing a mix tape with you – you have to sometimes truck through some really questionable choices that can lead you to wonder about the sanity of said friend.

Spotify is definitely worth checking out if for no other reason than to see what all the hoopla was coming out of Europe over it.  It's nice, extremely familiar in presentation (-cough-iTunes-cough) and you can use it on the go as well.  Will it change the face of music?  Only time will tell that tale.

Have you tried Spotify yet?  What do you think of it?