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Spotify's upcoming media event to showcase new free tier: Source

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Spotify is about to unveil free -- though limited -- mobile access, an anonymous source told TechCrunch on Thursday. Until now, while free, ad-supported Spotify access was available on PCs, only premium subscribers paying $10 a month could stream music to their mobile devices.

Meanwhile, for a monthly fee of $5, users could remove the ads from PCs, but still not listen on mobile. However, with many competitors having free services, along with the proliferation of mobile connected devices in the hands of end users, not having a free mobile service, even a limited one, was a big gap in Spotify's portfolio.

TC theorized that when Spotify launched back in 2008, the idea may have been that users would be tempted to pay for Spotify after sampling it on their desktops. However, things have radically changed, and some people never touch a desktop or laptop computer.

Spotify has six million paying subscribers and 20 million active users world-wide.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Spotify has struck a deal with the three major record labels (Sony, Universal, and Warner); users will only be able to play a limited number of songs on demand, and after that, they will be restricted to listening to Spotify’s Pandora-like radio service.

However, a source told TechCrunch that users may be given the freedom to listen to previously compiled playlists or starred song collections. Why?

The reasoning may be that Spotify sees these subsequent plays of songs users have already shown interest in as less valuable than on-demand access to what they’ve never listened to before. Reserving infinite search-and-listen capabilities for premium customers ensures people don’t get the milk if they don’t buy the cow.

When will the reveal of the new feature be made? The announcement of the new free tier is, TC's source said, to be done at the previously scheduled Dec. 11 Spotify event in New York City. Spotify sent out invites for the Dec. 11 event on Dec. 3, but didn’t say what would be discussed. Instead, the invitation said:

We’re having a media event. Like to come? There will be donuts.

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