As its hype curve rises and grows around the world, music service Spotify is locking out eager, enterprising users from outside the six countries in which it has launched so far. The service is only supposed to be available in Sweden, the UK, France, Spain, Finland and Norway, but users in a range of Europea countries had managed to get unauthorised access via proxy servers.
On Wednesday, many of them (like this one from Ireland, Lithuania) woke up to an email from Spotify (via Simplyzesty.com) explaining that access to their accounts had been blocked because the company isn’t serving ads in those countries.
The company tells us: “These users got access to the Spotify service but were not being served any adverts, which fund it… The feedback we’ve received from these (users) has been mostly understanding as they realise we can’t simply give our product away for free.” Will the company restore official service to the affected countries? The spokesperson adds the company does “hope to increase our reach in Europe and elsewhere in the future.”
Spotify has to work hard enough to prove it can make enough money from ads and premium subs to pay for its authorised use of music, without paying for use of tunes served to users who will never see an ad. But the shutdown at least demonstrates interest from users outside Spotify’s core territories.
UK performance royalty collector PRS For Music handles Spotify’s European licensing and a U.S. launch is planned for Q3 or Q4, with China to follow.
But why bother with countries like Lithuania and Portugal? There is scant online ad revenue to go around in a major market like the UK at the moment, let alone smaller economies. There is the possibility of offering premium subscriptions only (as Last.fm has done everywhere but the UK, U.S. and Germany) – but, without the free option to spread world-of-mouth and social network buzz, take-up would be small.