Talking tech since 2003

Confirming reports from last week, today Spotify has expanded its music streaming offerings for smartphone- and tablet-using customers. Previously, only the desktop version of Spotify supported the “freemium” model—an ad-supported, non-subscription based model that let users pick whatever songs they wanted to hear with some brief commercials sprinkled in between. But in order to have access to Spotify on tablets or phones, a user had to shell out ten bucks a month for a subscription. The up side of that was it took out the ads, while the down side was, well, it cost ten bucks a month.

But a post on TechCrunch today reports that Spotify has expanded the same desktop freemium services to tablets, while mobile phones will get a shuffle-style experience not unlike Pandora. However, the benefit of Spotify Shuffle on mobile phones is the amount of control users will have over what they hear; Pandora’s main function was providing listeners with other artists and songs in the same vein, while Spotify Shuffle will apparently give you just music by the artist you’re looking for. That’s pretty great, no?

When I first tried Spotify, I have to admit I was extremely disappointed that I wasn’t able to enjoy ad-supported music streaming on my smartphone, leading me to more or less forget about the service entirely. Now that there’s a way to stream music on the go—even if it’s only in a shuffle mode, with ads—I’ll be a lot more likely to keep it on my phone. And it’s good news for Spotify as well, since simply the act of playing an ad for a listener means revenue. More listeners, even in the ad-supported and freemium models, mean more cash coming into the office.

That said, the real goal here is to earn more actual subscribers, which is the real bread-and-butter for Spotify’s business model, such as it is. It remains to be seen whether this new initiative will actually translate into people paying monthly subscription fees. It’s still holding steady at $10 a month, and I’m balking at that fee now just as I did back when I first experienced Spotify. But that doesn’t mean that new mobile and tablet users will feel the same way.

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