After years of taunting American music fans from across The Pond, Spotify has finally immigrated to the Land of the Free.
For those of you who don't spend all your free time researching online music applications unavailable in your nation, Spotify is something of a hybrid of Pandora and iTunes, with Google+-style social networking options thrown in for good measure.
[Spotify is] a stand-alone application that lets users listen to and share any song by any artist instantly and for free. And it's entirely legal. The service supports itself (and pays for music rights) with advertising and monthly subscriptions that unlock premium features such as the ability to store songs on an iPod, mobile phone, or tablet.
The key point here is that bit about "any song by any artist." The Spotify music library is bound only by the physical limitations of reality. If a song exists, you can find it on Spotify (or will find it in the near future).
Until today -- and barring any semantic arguments about beta tests -- Spotify has been available exclusively to people outside the US. The key stumbling block in bringing the service Stateside has long been the labyrinthine licensing system imposed by record companies fearful of the 'net's potential for collapsing the traditional music biz. No specific details have emerged, but some sort of agreement must have been reached between Spotify and the American record industry, as the service is now available in the States.
Whoa whoa whoa, don't rush out to download the Spotify client just yet. Due to overwhelming demand for the service, the company is strictly limiting the number of people who can join just yet. At the moment, the Spotify site asks prospective users to enter an email address to which the company will send an invitation code just as soon as it believes the Spotify servers can handle the strain.
Of course, that only applies if you're hoping to get your hands on the free version of the Spotify application. Those of you willing to shell out $5 to $10 per month for Spotify Premium or Spotify Unlimited respectively can bypass the velvet rope and grab the software right this minute. Both options remove the advertisements that otherwise fund Spotify, and the Unlimited iteration lets you use Spotify on your mobile phone.
The rest of us will just have to wait for the company to bless us with an invitation code. I guess I'll be content listening to Pandora in the meantime, but the overwhelming lack of rare Matson Jones live tracks is severely cramping my enthusiasm.