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Spotify Goes Live in U.S. as Invite-Only Service

Thursday Spotify finally officially opened its doors to the American public after months of speculation and reported delays surrounding its deals with the four major record labels. The popular European music service arrives offering two premium subscription plans and a free ad-supported version that currently can only be accessed by invitation.

Spotify was originally launched in Sweden back in 2008 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon and has since reeled in more than 10 million registered users and more than 1.6 million paying subscribers across 7 countries in Europe. Although popular overseas, the new service now faces fierce competition here in the States where Slacker Radio, Rdio, Qriocity, Rhapsody and a few others all fight for the American dollar.

According to Spotify, the free ad-supported service provides on-demand, buffer-free access to over 15 million songs via a web browser. Users can also manage their own personal music files and sync them to a smartphone or iPod device. In addition, the free version also features playlist management and Spotify Social, the latter of which connects with Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS, and lets users post playlists to which friends can subscribe. Eventually Spotify will impose a 20-hours-per-month time limit, but for now the free account has no limits as part of an introductory offer.

For an additional $4.99 per month, users can upgrade to the Spotify Unlimited plan which basically eradicates the advertisements and time restraints, and unlocks the radio mode. But for $9.99 per month, Spotify Premium offers "the all-singing, all-dancing, top-of-the-range Spotify experience." The 15 million plus songs are still available, but with this plan, subscribers can listen both online and offline. Spotify's library is also unlocked for other devices outside the PC including smartphones "and a whole heap of other devices." The premium account even offers exclusive content.

“We believe that music is the most social thing there is and that’s why we’ve built the best social features into Spotify for easy sharing and the ultimate in music discovery," said Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify. "Even if you aren’t a total music freak, chances are you have a friend who is and whose taste you admire. I’m looking forward to connecting with some of you in Spotify and discovering some cool new tracks."

"Our dream is to make all the world’s music available instantly to everyone, wherever and whenever they want it," the company said in a press release. "Spotify makes it easier than ever to discover, manage and share music with your friends, while making sure that artists get a fair deal."

The free version of Spotify is expected to go public in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, we'll try to sneak in through the back door and see what it offers in comparison to the other services currently available.