Spotify Launches in the US: Can It Compete?

A beloved European cloud music service enters the American market

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Today's a big day for music listeners. Or, is it? Spotify, the Sweden-based cloud music service, is making its American debut. Given its vast popularity across the pond -- over 10 million Europeans have registered for the service -- and its partnership with that other well-trafficked Internet site, Facebook, its U.S. success seems imminent.

But, this wouldn't be the first time a European trend didn't exactly translate in the U.S. Monarchy; the metric system; Kate Price; Travis; they all made it big over there, but fell flat in America. The English are used to this sort of thing, they almost expect Spotify to fail, as The Telegraph's Emma Barnett, notes "It’s like watching one of our favourite bands trying to crack the US music market – we will them to succeed but are not surprised when they regularly don’t."

And, Spotify may have a harder time than a British pop band: It has lots of competition in an already saturated market. U.S. techies are excited for a new music toy, but the average American already has a cloud service of choice. "Spotify’s launch has been eagerly awaited by early technology adopters in the US." Contines Barnett, "However, it is entering a crowded and well-established marketplace with services like Rhapsody, Mog and Pandora, already occupying lots of mindshare and music lovers’ time."

The payment plan doesn't differ much from competitors, like Pandora. Spotify has three financing options: free, unlimited ($4.99/month), and Spotify Premium ($9.99/month). Free offers unlimited streaming for the first six months, then a 10 hour per month cap after that, Spotify Unlimited gives you unlimited listening with no time limits, ad-free streaming, and the ability to share songs and playlists with friends, and Spotify Premium adds mobile apps and offline listening,.

Spotify is entering a tough market, but they have a juggernaut on their side: Facebook. Teaming up with Facebook's 750 million users will give them a leg up, as ZdNet's Zack Whittaker points out, "The level of competition in the U.S. may be why Spotify is planning to team up with Facebook: to establish a solid American user base right out the gate." Not only does Whittaker think this gives the cloud service a chance, he even thinks it puts them in the same league as the highly anticipated forethcoming iCloud, by Apple, "Though Spotify is late to the game, competing with other already established brands as Pandora, Rhapsody and even Napster to a degree, alignment with Facebook as a social network could rank it on par with that of Apple’s iCloud."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.