Europe's hottest digital music service has just made its American debut and some analysts are already saying that the download industry is as good as dead. Spotify has a catalog of 15 million songs which users can stream instead of buy. Users can access Spotify for a small monthly fee or for free, as long as they're willing to put up with ads. After six months, users of the free service are limited to 10 hours per month, a strategy which has won the Swedish company 1.6 million paying users in Europe, the Christian Science Monitor notes.
Spotify's free service in the US is invite-only for now but the company plans to open it to everybody in a few weeks, to the horror of many in the music business who fear that the service will do to paid downloads what Netflix did to the video store. Spotify execs, however, are among those saying there's no need to read the last rites for the iTunes store. "In markets where Spotify operates in Europe, digital downloads actually grew," the company's chief content officer tells the Los Angeles Times. "People are finding that Spotify is a great way to discover new music that they can purchase."