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Spotify lifts time restriction on Web listening

Spotify announced that it is lifting time limits on its streaming service for all users. (Spotify)

Facing more competition in the streaming music space, Spotify is stepping up its game in its quest to provide the soundtrack for your life. The company said Wednesday that it will lift time limits for users who listen to the ad-supported service for free.

Previously, the company had offered free users unlimited streaming for six months. The change comes soon after the company opened up its mobile service to free users, as long as they’re willing to listen on shuffle. It used to require a subscription for any app use at all.

What’s prompted the change of heart? Part of it may be that the company, which came to the U.S. market in 2011 after seeing strong success in Europe, has reached a point in its growth where it can support moves like this to expand its footprint. But the company is also seeing new competitors that are directly challenging Spotify’s unique claim to music lovers’ hearts — its extreme approach to personalization.

Spotify gives users more control over what they’re listening to than services such as Pandora, by letting listeners pick particular artists or tracks instead of plugging music preferences into an algorithm aimed at music discovery. And Beats Music, which is set to launch on Tuesday, promises to bring users the best of both worlds. Its DJ-curated service is designed to let you listen to what you want and intelligently select other music based on your preferences.

“In our experience it’s always been a living, breathing human who has brought us that song we fell in love with,” the company said in its introductory blog post for the service. Users will be able to try the service for free, but unlimited streaming will cost $9.99 per month. Beats has some high-profile backing behind its push, including a chief creative officer with a name you may recognize, Trent Reznor.

It’s also struck a smart distribution deal with AT&T to offer Beats Music to family plan subscribers for $15 per month. That subscription will work for up to five family members, across ten devices, and gives Beats a chance at a huge base of users right off the bat.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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