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The Beginning of the End?
Member Name: jonny35
Advantages: Incorporate your personal music library, huge range of music, excellent interface, no streaming time
Disadvantages: Only worth using if you are a Premium user (monthly cost)
I first started using Spotify 2 years ago when it was in its (relatively) early stages. I was amazed that I could listen to almost any music I wanted for free, in full quality, with no streaming times - and the best part of all: It was LEGAL!
I was fascinated by the capabilities of the software; I could build playlists, explore 'similar artists', listen to radio channels - all in a simple interface similar to iTunes. I could also connect to FaceBook and browse friends' music and even co-create shared playlists with friends, and then sync all my music to my iPhone.
After several months, however, the unfortunate but inevitable happened - adverts started appearing. Initially there were always adverts, but they appeared as images in the sidebar and were a minor nuisance. Ideally, Spotify would make money from commission on downloads when people downloaded the song directly from within Spotify, however this was slightly unrealistic because Spotify was such a great platform for listening to music that there was little need for downloading the tracks.
I therefore accepted the necessity for more adverts, particularly as you could previously navigate away from Sporitfy and music would continue playing with the adverts hidden from sight - audible adverts seemed a logical conclusion.
Many of these adverts were for Spotify premium accounts which had a lot of benefits over a free account. Not only did they eliminate adverts, they also gave premium users advanced previews of albums, allowed people to take their playlists offline, and supported Spotify on iPhone and Android. I was not particularly concerned for these features, however, so for the next year continued to use my free account as the adverts frustratingly increased in frequency.
It was this year, however, that Spotify made what the majority of users believe to be the suicidal decision to restrict listening on free accounts - essentially forcing people to pay for a premium account. Listening time was capped at 10 hours per month and there was a maximum play frequency of 5 plays per song. I have now made the decision to listen to free and legal music elsewhere (Grooveshark) and many other free users are following suit.
I'm disappointed that Spotify, with all its great features, has decided to force it's users to pay monthly premiums rather than making the advert-funded system work. Spotify recently overtook iTunes in music revenues, however the promise of FREE and legal music has gone. This is a shame because Spotify has far a far greater interface and features that its competitors, and forcing people to pay a monthly premium will likely drive many users back to illegal piracy.
Summary: Great for Premium users, Free users are better off elsewhere..