Spotify cozies up to iPod, takes aim at iTunes

Spotify will now let people sync MP3s to the iPod Classic, iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle. A new download service also lets people buy the MP3s they've been streaming.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Spotify is getting serious about taking on Apple.

Arguably one of the most well-respected music services in Europe, Spotify has 13 million tracks available and announced in March that it had 1 million subscribers. Spotify has a free, ad-supported option available to customers, as well as a premium service for unlimited access to the tracks on mobile phones and offline.

The company announced a major update to its service today, including allowing people to sync the songs in their Spotify playlists with the iPod Classic, iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle. According to the company, people will need only to plug their iPods into their computers via USB and they will see the player pop up in the Spotify app's "Devices" section. From there, they can sync all the MP3s in their playlists in a single step.

If those who use the company's free plan want to buy tracks, they can now do so via Spotify's new download service. Spotify has been offering downloads for quite some time. However, not all the tracks were available for people to buy, and members were forced to pay for each song, even when they wanted a full playlist. The new offering makes it easier for people to buy playlists in a single step, if they so choose.

Free customers can start buying songs in bundled packages. Those who want 10 tracks will pay 7.99 British pounds (about $13), while 15 tracks will run customers 9.99 pounds. The company's 40 tracks and 100 tracks plans cost 25 pounds and 50 pounds, respectively.

But that's not all. Spotify also said today that its iPhone and Android application can now be employed by those who use its free service, as well. With that offering, people can wirelessly sync their MP3 playlists to their devices.

Though Spotify is performing well in Europe, the company has yet to launch the service in the U.S.

So far, it has inked deals with EMI and Sony to offer those companies' songs on its U.S. service. But for Spotify to compete with entrenched streaming competitors like Rhapsody, the company still needs to sign a deal with the other record labels. As CNET's Greg Sandoval pointed out earlier this year, if Spotify can enter into an agreement with Universal Music Group, the world's top record label, then Warner Music should fall in line behind and thus pave the way for the service's U.S. launch.

Last month, Spotify made some waves by announcing that as of May 1, those who signed up for its free service before November 2 will only be able to play a track five times. Those who have signed up since November 2 will see these changes applied six months after they register. Total listening time for free users is limited to 10 hours a month after the first six months.

However, Spotify's latest move easily overshadows any minor change it has made to its free service. By allowing for simple syncing to the iPod and offering a new download service, the company seems to have its sights set on Apple. Currently, Apple's iTunes music store lets people buy tracks individually and sync those with iOS-based devices. But with this latest launch, Spotify boasts that its service is all anyone will require.

"From today, Spotify really is the only music player you'll ever need," Daniel Ek, the company's founder and CEO, said in a statement. "Our users don't want to have to switch between music players, but they do want to take their playlists with them wherever they go, on a wider range of devices, more simply and at a price they can afford. Now we've made that possible on one of the world's most popular consumer devices."

Spotify's new features are rolling out to customers today via automatic update.