It's official: a new free Spotify app is on the way, expanding the playback options of music fans that don't want to be locked into a monthly subscription package.
Revealed at the Gramercy Theatre in New York, the app will allow users free access to 750 tracks over a maximum of 15 playlists, without forcing them into a shuffle mode. That's around 40 hours of music that can be saved to a user's account.
However, there's a catch – these songs must appear on one of the 15 personalised playlists that Spotify curates for individuals (such as Daily Mix and Discover weekly), meaning you don't have unfettered access to its huge library of songs. You could speculate that this is tied to the promotion of certain artists by the record labels subsidising the free tier.
The new app will be backed by revamped machine learning tools looking to deliver the most pertinent recommendations to users, taking into account not just the songs being most often played by a user, but those in the surrounding playlist and even the name of the playlist itself in relation to similarly-named lists from other users.
In addition, Spotify is introducing a new low data mode to make playback when on a mobile connection a little more palatable. It'll reduce data consumption by 75%, presumably through an undisclosed compression system, though there's no word yet on how this affects audio performance.
Spotify has 90 million free users already, and 70 million paid subscribers. The new app seems to have a savvy mix of fresh freedoms to lure in new users, and the right restrictions to keep paying users keen. With Apple Music growing in popularity, Spotify's approach seems a wise one.
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