Spotify removes five track limit as it searches for the Goldilocks model

Business decisions at Spotify. Image: Jon Åslund
Business decisions at Spotify. Image: Jon Åslund

Spotify has removed its limit of five plays of a particular song for British users. It was launched in April 2011 and affected Britons who had signed up to the music streaming service for more than six months. The aim was to try to nudge users towards subscribing to its paid-for services.

“Great news about the 5-play limit!” was how Spotify announced the decision on their website, as if it had found out from an excited neighbour rather than, er, making the decision itself.

Why? Who benefits?

For free users, it’s obviously great news. They will still have to put up with the ads, but at least their favourite Lady Gaga track won’t grey out after a frustratingly fleeting five listens. Free users in the UK will be nudged to subscribe by the cap on listening to free music that comes in after ten hours.

Stuart Dredge at Music Ally notes that Spotify varies the limits on its freemium services in different countries. O’Hear calls this creating “false scarcity” because hearing Jonathan from Spotify every two or three songs was not convincing enough users to pay to make them go away.

Spotify seems to be trying out different models in different countries, trying to settle on a model that will, presumably, convert the most users into subscribers. In the meantime, students at schools at universities around Britain can bask in more free music, at least for now.


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