Spotify, an online music streaming service, became available to everyone in the UK on 10 February, having previously been invitation only.
In its blog post announcing the full UK launch Spotify says: ‘Up until now we’ve kept a close eye on controlling our user growth with invitations so that we don’t run into any problems and to ensure that everyone gets a really good music experience when they sign up’.
The system works by streaming music to your PC over a broadband internet connection, so no music files are downloaded or stored on your computer. It’s an alternative to radio stations, but with less repetition, no DJ chat and just the occasional audio advert to interrupt the flow of music.
Spotify users must first download a small (1.5MB) free software application. There are three options available, from the free ad-funded version, to the ‘premium’ £9.99 version which is free of advertising. The third option is a 24-hour license costing 99p.
Spotify is available for download and use with PCs, Macs and Linux. To find the best broadband provider for you, read our reviews of broadband.
Create online music playlists of your favourite tracks
The main function of Spotify is creating your own personal playlists with only the tracks you want to hear. Playlists can also be shared, either via Spotify itself or on blogs or Twitter.
Choosing the ‘radio’ option brings up a selection of decades and genres which can be used to filter the songs played on your personalised playlist. If, for example, you want to listen to a mixture of soul, blues, funk and country from the 50s to the 80s then you can.
There’s a wide range of music available on Spotify, including some rarer tracks, despite the site recently being forced to remove certain music from its database due to licensing issues with some artists and record labels.
Online music may tempt consumers from CDs and downloads
Which? technology expert Al Warman said: ‘As broadband becomes faster and ever more pervasive, online music services like Spotify may tempt consumers away from the traditional route of owning music, either as CDs or downloaded music via services like iTunes.
‘Whether those music fans will put up with advertising in exchange for free music online is a social experiment that has not yet given conclusive results to the music industry.’
Which? RSS news feed
For daily consumer news, subscribe to the . If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/reviews/news.xml into your newsreader. Find out more about RSS in the Which? guide to RSS news feeds.
Sign up to the Which? weekly technology email
Keep your finger on the pulse of digital technology with the weekly email from the Which? Technology team. Every Tuesday we’ll send you the latest news and reviews of MP3 players, mobile phones, cameras, high-definition TVs and other gadgets. Packed with the latest product launches, First Look reviews, expert advice and some incredible deals – can you afford not to be the first to find out? Plus everyone who signs up will be entered into our free prize draw with a chance to win a Sony PlayStation 3.