Spotify kicks off in Australia

Free music streaming service launches locally

Free music streaming service Spotify has launched in Australia today, with support for Windows, Mac and a comprehensive range of mobile devices.

<img src="http://demo.idg.com.au/pcw/inlineimages/spotify_aus.jpg"class="left"border="0"alt="Spotify launches in Australia"> Click to take a closer look at the Spotify app for PC.

Spotify's free music subscription is supported by advertising, and ad-free subscriptions for computer and mobile can be purchased monthly.

To sign up for Spotify, users must have a Facebook account — the two services are inextricably linked. Spotify uses subscribers' Facebook usernames and passwords, and requests access to email addresses, and home town information. On its first start-up, Spotify's Facebook tie-in accesses users' birth date and listed political and religious leanings.

The Spotify app also posts updates to Facebook about what songs or radio stations are listened to on a user's account. The Spotify-Facebook tie-in boasts 19,700,000 monthly users according to Facebook statistics.

Spotify Free is the basic, ad-supported version of the streaming music service. With 16 million tracks on offer (the US has around 18 million), users can listen using Spotify apps on PC and Mac. A Spotify Free user can sign in to the mobile apps, but can't listen to free music — only listeners' pre-owned music files are able to be synced to mobile apps through Spotify Free.

Spotify Unlimited offers completely ad-free access to Spotify's song library, but is restricted to PC and Mac use in the same way as the Free account. Unlimited costs $7.99 per month.

Spotify Premium is the truly-unlimited service, with ad-free listening on PC, Mac, and any mobile device. Users can stream music online or listen to synced music offline, with enhanced sound quality over Unlimited and Free subscriptions as well as exclusive content, competitions and offers. Unlimited costs $11.99 per month — a dollar less than competitor Rdio.

A spokesperson for Spotify wouldn't comment on the distribution of paid and free accounts, but told GoodGearGuide that the vast majority of paid accounts were the full Premium service.

Spotify's mobile support is comprehensive. Apps for iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Phone, Palm and Blackberry are available, with 104 devices listed as compatible on Spotify's mobile overview page.

Up to 3,333 tracks can be synced onto a mobile app for offline listening on any Spotify account. Free and Unlimited users are only able to sync music files they already own, but Premium users can download from Spotify's entire library to listen within the Spotify computer and mobile apps.

In Pictures: the Spotify app

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Campbell Simpson

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