Spotify will launch a free mobile streaming version of its music service, it's reported, having persuaded music labels to agree to ad-supported deals. The new service will debut alongside the existing paid mobile music service, which offers advertising-free on-demand access to the company's catalog from smartphones, tablets, and other platforms, the WSJ reports, though free users won't get the same degree of choice as their paying counterparts.
Instead, sources close to the incoming offer claim, Spotify will offer those free subscribers a limited amount of on-demand access to the catalog. Primarily, however, they'll be able to access the custom radio stations offered as part of Spotify Radio, which take a seed track and then build a unique playlist of similar artists.
According to the insiders, the new offer comes as Spotify finally inks deals with the three major record labels to offer a free package. Among the negotiations were how much of the ad revenue would be passed on per play, and how much choice over what tracks were accessed each user had.
Previously, the advert-supported service had only been an option through the desktop apps. If a user wanted to stream their choice of music to their mobile device, or to a streaming home media platform like Sonos, they'd need to be a premium subscriber.
It's unclear whether free users will also get limited access to Sonos integration and the other smart home platforms Spotify has integrated with, but that's perhaps doubtful.
For the labels, it's an opportunity to try to further encourage more free listeners to opt for a more lucrative paid subscription. According to Spotify's most recent public disclosures, it has around 20 million active users, of whom around 6 million pay.