Spotify is now available in Australia

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After plenty of delays, Spotify has finally, officially launched in Australia with 16 million tracks streaming. The internationally acclaimed music streaming service is now set to compete with other music streaming services in Australia like JB Hi-Fi Now and Rdio in what looks like the next big way to listen to music. I hope Apple is paying attention.

“We’re unbelievably excited to be here,” co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek says in the companies press release, “Australians are massive music fans and we’ve created a service that we know they’ll love.”

Now you’re probably wondering what the big deal is with Spotify. Well, there are a few major changes, the biggest being that Spotify has a truly free version. That’s not a free-trial. That’s a free-forever ad-supported version. There are major restrictions, such as the inability to use a mobile device, but the focus still remains on giving an alternative to piracy. And no other streaming service does that for free in Australia at the moment.

Spotify’s New York-based chief marketing solutions officer Jeff Levick reinforces Spotify’s focus, for now at least, with The Australian, saying “The real competition is piracy and our belief from the get-go is the only way to be successful in this market is that you have to have a better model than piracy.” And they’re doing this with the following.

For Spotify Free, you get unlimited free music listening on your computer. You can also sync your own offline library through Spotify with your iPod and some other “mobiles”. But there is no mobile streaming and there are plenty of ads, obviously, to support the service. But it’s still a great free account. Unlimited free streaming sounds very good to me compared to everything else. Infact, it basically replaces lots of the online-only services, or services with crappy mobile apps, like Songl.

Now the paid plans start. Firstly, is Spotify Unlimited. Basically, you get all of the above, but ad-free, for $6.99 a month. You can only access your Spotify streaming music, again, through your PC or Mac but if ads annoy you, I guess this is an alright plan, if not a little too expensive for what you gain compared to free.

The second, and final paid plan is Spotify Premium. And, as before, you get unlimited streaming, but now you can stream, just like every other streaming service on your smartphones. You also get to listen to Spotify music offline. Also on offer is “enhanced sound quality,” but whether that means 320kbps or lower isn’t said. All of this is $11.99 a month, which is less than one iTunes album price a month, but not too competitive with other streaming services. Some mobile apps are not fully available in Australia yet, so we’ll have to wait while they update each mobile App Store to have the app. Cmon Windows Phone!

Overall, if you’re looking for a new competitor to Rdio, JB Hi-Fi Now, Songl, Zune Pass and any other streaming services that I’m forgetting, Spotify looks like a nice alternative. It’s still expensive if you want  to actually use it outside of the house, but for $11.99 a month, it’s a steal if your pirating ways make you feel guilty or if buying music elsewhere is too expensive.