With 15M active users, Spotify adds free radio on Android

Android phones in the U.S. gained a free version of Spotify on Tuesday: The music service announced Spotify radio at no charge with the latest version of its Android software. The free mobile edition of Spotify’s radio stream works the same as on a desktop; there’s no charge to listen to music but you’ll hear occasional advertisements unless you upgrade to Spotify Premium.

The approach is similar to that of Pandora, which has long offered ad-supported online music tracks and subscription plans. And like Pandora, the updated Spotify for Android(s goog) allows the creation of stations based on artist, album or playlist. You can skip a song if it’s one you’d rather not hear and Spotify will learn not to play it again. Give a “thumbs up” to a favorite song and Spotify will save it to a “Liked from Radio” playlist on the desktop.

Surely, Spotify hopes that a taste of the free version will entice subscriptions. But the company’s conversion rate isn’t too shabby; even before this move. Ken Parks, Spotify’s Chief Content Officer and Managing Director of Spotify N. America recently noted that Spotify has 15 million active users and over 4 million paid subscribers.

Aside from the ads, there’s no real limit to the free Spotify radio service, so it should appeal. Users have access to the millions of tracks in Spotify’s catalog on their Android smartphone or tablet. The updated app is available in the Google Play store and supports devices running Android 2.1 and up, which is nearly all active devices on Google’s platform.