Spotify Launching Free Music for Mobile Phones: What Do The Changes Mean?

If this doesn't want to make you jump up and down on the nearest elevated surface, then your day is hopelessly mired in gloom: Spotify, the music-streaming platform, is expanding its free incarnation to mobile phones and tablets. Free! Good Lorde!

Previously, the mobile-streaming option was only available for $10/month Premium subscriptions, which also come ad-free. However, Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek is making the switch because — shocker — people like listening to music on their smartphones.

"It’s the one thing on my mind more than a year that had been bugging me," Ek said, rather specifically. We hope he feels much better now.

But besides putting up with ads, there's another caveat to the free mobile service. According to Forbes:

Users of the free service will now be able to play an artist on demand, however they will not be in control of what song is played. Instead Spotify will shuffle the entire artist’s catalog and play songs at random–you can play Bob Dylan, just not Tangled Up in Blue. The twist, however, is that when you do hear a song you like, you can add it to a playlist you’ve created and in the future play it at will. The same goes for other playlists that you and others have built on the system.

Up until now, the 'default shuffle-by-album for free music' model is the only reason Spotify's managed to get the licensing to set up this service. However, it's still a one-up from Pandora, where you're not even in control of who you listen to (and only so many songs can be skipped before an undesirable assaults your ears). Not coincidentally, Forbes reports, Pandora's shares are down six percent today.

From a business point of view, however, the shuffle caveat's a great thing: Ek can tease people into mobile, but the annoyance of not having music truly on-demand (which, after all, is the nature of Spotify) will prod people to pay for Premium, which is still ad-free and completely on-demand.

"The more music you play, the more likely you will pay," said Ek.

With the advent of the free service, Ek will likely reel in new users entranced by mobile music, but he's also banking on being able to convert at least some of the 18 million freeloading Spotifiers to join the ranks of the six million making an honest app out of the service.

In related news, the streaming-reluctant Led Zeppelin's now playing on Spotify as well. Now, if only they could get The Beatles...

(Image: Spotify)