Spotify Arrives in the American Listening Room

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Music lovers who once collected CDs or downloaded-to-own now have another streaming service to consider: Spotify. The European-based service went live in the United States on July 14 as a competitor to such streaming jukeboxes as Rhapsody, Pandora and Slacker.

The attraction of a Cloud-based music service is that by paying one small fee each month, you can hear whatever you like anytime and anywhere as long as you have Internet access. Spotify claims an on-demand library of more than 13 million tunes, including songs from the “Big Four” music companies.

While Spotify’s free subscription plan, for now, is limited to computer users who are fortunate to be invited, pay plans at $4.99 or $9.99 a month are available to anyone, and you don’t necessarily need to be by a computer.

Several non-computer manufacturers are offering Spotify firmware upgrades to their network-capable audio components or Wi-Fi music players.

Onkyo says that the Spotify service is now available through the following receivers:

And accessory maker Logitech is adding Spotify compatibility to its Squeezebox Radio and Squeezebox Touch Wi-Fi Music Player products.

Spotify is also available as a free app from the Apple App Store for use on an iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The device must be running iOS 3.0 or later. It’s also available as an Android App from the Android Market.

Spotify’s $5-a-month plan is subsidized by commercials—though a lot fewer than you’ll hear on commercial radio. The $10-a-month premium plan is ad free and music streams in at 320 Kbps, a much higher quality sounding bit rate than you’re likely to get elsewhere.