JOPINION. If you're streaming music with Spotify, you might have been notified that some changes are to be made very shortly. The changes will limit the use of the service and affected are all Spotify "Free" and "Open" users from May 1st of this year (2011)*. According to the official statement by Spotify, the following limitations are made:
  • Each track can only be played for free up to a total of 5 times.
  • Additionally, total listening time for free users will be limited to 10 hours per month after the first 6 months. That’s equivalent to around 200 tracks or 20 albums.

Self-proclaimed solution against piracy

Even though the decision is quite understandable, as nothing comes for free in this world, and ads don't cover all costs apparently. But in the same official blog entry this statement that is being made:

People are listening to more music and from a wider range of artists than ever before, and are giving up on piracy, which is exactly what we hoped would happen.
What's not discussed is the effect that the change of things is likely to have on people's means of gaining access to new music in a longer time frame. Opposed to how digital distribution of music has been developing since the dawn of free access to music streaming (less piracy, more legitimate), the assumption that a more strict access instead has the direct opposite effect, is by no means far-fetched.

What I mean by this, in practical terms, is:
  1. Spotify users will still be able to find loads of new interesting music, but...
  2. ...will feel reluctant and discouraged to keep on listening, and instead start looking for more persistent (still free) means of retrieving that same music. 
Where do you think most kids (below credit card age) will turn for quick access of said piece of music? 

Piracy movement not dead: Napster Dedux?

The constant anxiety of over-listening to a certain piece of music will inevitably create an even greater, and more desperate urge for pirated material than what's ever been seen before. Even pre-Spotify and other free streaming services' entrance on the digital map.

Not saying everyone will return to piracy, but a substantial amount of old Spotify free rollers likely will.

Bottom line

In this day and age it's certainly not easy to make people spend money. Especially not on the things that come for free somewhere else, whether it's legitimate or not. What Spotify once made clear, is that people don't share and download pirated music and other forms of creative work by sheer ill-will, but through convenience and quick access. And what could be easier, faster and smoother than instant, free access without even requiring it to be downloaded? That is the main reason Spotify got big. The feel of ease and complete freedom will no longer be at their advantage, as it no longer comes for free.

Furthermore, most people seem to be forming their individual perception and taste in music in their early teenage lives. This is where their interest in music really come to life. Good luck asking for mummy's credit card number from these tech-savvy individuals.

Please up-vote this article on:
Delicious | digg | reddit

Thanks for reading my thoughts ;)
* Applies to users registered on or before November 1st 2010. Newer users will see the effect coming to play after 6 months after the date of registration. Read the official statement made by Spotify for further information.

Just a side note: I suppose you already know everything you play with Spotify automatically remains stored on your hard drive for a certain time? I also guess you know everything you see and hear on your computer can be recorded? ;)