07:00 AEST Tue May 22 2012
Downloading songs for free online usually means one thing in Australia — piracy.But from today Aussie music lovers will have a new, legal option of listening to their favourite tracks for free with the launch of the digital music service Spotify.
The company, which is heavily integrated with Facebook's social network, gives users access to up to 16 million tracks in exchange for listening to three to four minutes of advertising every hour.
Subscribers can pay a monthly fee of $11.99 in exchange for an ad-free version.
ninemsn is partnering with Spotify to promote this new digital music service and encourage subscriptions through Australia’s largest online portal. Click here to try Spotify for free.
Spotify was launched in Sweden in 2008 and now operates in 12 European countries as well as the US. Its Australian arm is headed by former Google Australia executive Kate Vale.
Breaking into the Australian music market was a high priority for Spotify, Ms Vale said.
"A few things stand out about the Australian market, one is that it’s the sixth largest music market in the world," she told ninemsn.
"We have an incredibly high smart phone penetration and Australians are also very social with a high Facebook penetration. Facebook integration is very key to any success in our market."
Spotify's launch in Australia will see it pitted against a dozen other digital subscription services including Rdio, but the company is the only to offer a free option.
More broadly, Spotify will also compete against downloads from iTunes.
"If you have a look at markets where iTunes and Spotify operate together you will see a trend," Ms Vale said.
"In Sweden and Norway we have overtaken iTunes in those markets and are now the number one digital contributor to the labels in those countries. And we are number two behind iTunes in all European markets and we are quickly catching up … we hope to see that trend occur here."
But Ms Vale said the main competition to Spotify was really piracy.
"Our major competitor and the people we are trying to get onto Spotify are those that are illegally downloading music," she said.
"I believe there are about 2.8 million Aussies illegally downloading music every month. I know that is quite high in terms of our overall population. It's around 10 percent."
Close to 100,000 Australians preregistered at the Spotify website to become the first to use the service today.
Author: Emily O'Keefe. Approving editor: Henri Paget.