Spotify Connect is a pretty nifty alternative to things like Bluetooth and AirPlay, but thus far, it’s been strictly the domain of Premium users. Those who listen for free haven’t had access to Spotify Connect, but that’s all about to change with a new update to Spotify’s Commercial Partners’ SDK. Beginning today, those hardware partners can enable Spotify Connect for free users in their speakers.
This is, of course, great news for free users, as they’re subject to a number of restrictions that Premium users don’t have to deal with. Many of those restrictions are still in place – for instance, free users aren’t able to download music and they’re limited in how many songs they can skip per hour.
Still, opening up its SDK to allow hardware manufacturers to support free users is the latest in a string of improvements Spotify has made to its free tier. The hope is that people using other music services will give Spotify free a spin and, once they’re hooked, sign up for a Premium account to unlock some extra perks. Even if those converts never sign up for a Premium account, they’re still being served ads as they listen, and it’s ultimately one more person for Spotify’s already massive userbase.
Now that Spotify has opened up its SDK, it’s up to the company’s hardware partners to enable this functionality in their speakers. “The release of our new eSDK will change the game for Spotify’s Free users who want to enjoy music on their connected speakers,” said Spotify senior product direct Mikael Ericsson in today’s announcement. “We look forward to supporting our partners over the coming months as they update existing speakers and bring new products to market.”
Make no mistake, this is a big thing for Spotify’s free users, who currently outnumber those who pay monthly for a Premium account. The difference isn’t as large as you might expect – Spotify reiterated today that it has 191 million users around the world, with 87 million of them subscribed to Spotify Premium. That leaves 104 million users who are listening for free, and this new SDK functionality might go a long way to ensuring those free users stick with Spotify instead of jumping ship and going with another provider.