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While the rumors about Apple launching OS X Lion on Thursday seem unlikely to pan out, music lovers still have one reason to get out of bed in the morning -- after more than a year of rumors and hand-wringing negotiations, all you can eat streaming music service Spotify has finally landed in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Spotify has officially launched in the United States as of 8am EST after nearly three years of dominating the European market in seven countries. But before you rush to click the link and join, you should know that the service is rolling out gradually by invitation only -- that is, unless you want to pony up for a Premium or Unlimited plan starting at $4.99 per month, which lets you jump the queue.
“Hello America. Spotify here,” the company’s website announces when accessed from an IP address in the USA. “The award-winning music service that’s taken Europe by storm has now come to U.S. shores. Millions of tracks ready to play instantly, on your computer and your phone. Any track, any time, anywhere. And it’s free!”
Well, sort of. While free Spotify accounts will be available starting today by invitation only, you’ll need a paid Premium account if you want to use the mobile app or use Spotify Offline for times when you don’t have an internet connection. Premium accounts can line-hop and get started right away, since those users pay $9.99 per month for the privilege -- as well as everything the service has to offer.
If that’s too much money for you and you don’t care about full access on your cell phone, offline mode, enhanced sound quality or exclusive content, you can opt for the $4.99 per month Unlimited plan. Instead of being limited to 20 hours per month and up to five plays on a single track with the free account, you’ll be able to stream to your heart’s content.
While we have yet to see confirmation of anyone actually receiving an invite for the free service -- the company’s website has been collecting them for more than a week -- we’re guessing those will start arriving in email inboxes over the course of the day. In the meantime, if you plan to go Premium at some point in the future, you can download the free Spotify iOS app to get ready -- or add your email address to the queue while it lasts.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter