Spotify, the music streaming subscription service, has arrived in Australia.
Uniquely, Spotify is also the first music service to use the Freemium model.
There are three levels of service involved. The free low bitrate ad supported service, a $6.99 service which is the same without the advertising removed, and a high bitrate (320kbps) premium service priced at $11.99
Mobile streaming is supported, however there is no free subscription. I found that the android software works nicely on my Motorola Xoom tablet, installs but goes into a panic loop on my Samsung Galaxy S II, and will not install on my HTC Desire. I have not tested on iOS, but would suggest the service will work bette on it due to the more homogeneous Apple platform.
Already the music industry is complaining about the royalties paid by the service , however much of the money Spotify pays in royalties is taken by the Recording companies, and little is passed onto the performers.
As a result of royalties, some of the bands (classic example is of-cause the digital friendly Beatles) have removed their content from the service. However Spotify advertises a catalog of 12 million songs, which is larger than RDIO and MOG.
Having tested the service on both mobile and desktop, I found the desktop to be a more rewarding experience. The ability to create stations based on artists or songs reminds me of Last.FM. Also both mobile and desktop recognised locally stored music.
Premium Mobile users can also cache music for offline use (according to the FAQ 3333 songs) and the service ties in with the Sonos music system.
Many people complain that Stotify is heavily tied into Facebook, requiring a facebook sign in and uses the FB platform for the social eliminate. And unlike Rdio, Spotify is a stand alone program and not web based, which will annoy some users (I do not, I prefer the application method of delivery).
In terms of using the service, the sound quality is great, and new users can get the premium level free for 30 days.
So far this is the closest locally available service to my favourite Last.FM. I found the system easier to use than MOG and RDIO, and is the one I seem to feel comfortable with the most. Taste will vary, however with a better local content collection and a larger library, Spotify seems to be the current winner in the heating up music subscription marketplace.