Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Today! Spotify Comes To America, Finally.

OK, OK. Spotify’s in America.

For some of you. The streaming music service, which has been trying to get to the U.S. for a couple long, grinding years, has finally done it.

All four big music labels are on board, including holdout Warner Music Group, and the service will officially open its doors tomorrow.

For now it’s invitation only, but it will open up over the coming weeks and months.

The basics: As in Europe, Spotify offers a couple different tiers of service. There’s a free, ad-supported service that lets you listen to whatever you want, as long as you’re on a computer that’s connected to the Web, and as long you don’t exceed a monthly time limit. For now, that’s 20 hours a month.

Spotify’s real goal is to get you to upgrade to its $10-a-month plan, which gives you unlimited, ad-free music, which you can also take with you via iPhone and Android apps. There’s also a $5-a-month middle step, which gives you ad-free music that’s not portable, but the Spotify guys don’t really expect much take-up there.

So go check it out, if you can.

And if you can’t, you’ve still got plenty of options. As I’ve noted many times before, Americans already have access to lots of subscription music services, like MOG, Rhapsody and Rdio. The big difference between those options and Spotify is they only offer a few days of free music before requiring you to pay up.

And of course, if you don’t want to pay at all, there’s plenty of other options, from legal services like Pandora, to grey-area services like Grooveshark and Turntable.fm, and the full-fledged piracy options which are easy enough for all of you to figure out on your own.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik