"For those of you using Spotify to find new tracks to enjoy and share with friends, these changes shouldn’t get in the way of you doing that."
——Daniel Ek


A Handy-Dandy Round-up of the Week’s Big Stories Emanating Out of Nerd Nation
Spotify is taking further steps to limit free access in Europe, a move designed to convert more premium users, boost profitability and satisfy label concerns, Digital Music News reports. "Above all, this means we can continue making Spotify available to all in the long-term," Daniel Ek explained this morning (midday from Europe). Here's a quick summary of the changes: (1) Users will be limited to 10 hours of free listening a month, instead of 20. (2) No song can be played more than five times without a premium account. (3) Changes happen May 1, and 30-day premium trials will be handed out during that month. (4) New users won’t be affected for six months, but those signing up prior to last Nov. 1 will feel the changes now. In a blog entry this morning, Ek wtote: "The changes we're having to make will mainly affect heavier Spotify Free and Open users, as most of you use Spotify to discover music—on average over 50 new tracks per month, even after a year," Ek described. "For those of you using Spotify to find new tracks to enjoy and share with friends, these changes shouldn’t get in the way of you doing that."… XM Satellite Radio will pay $3.6 million to settle a 2006 lawsuit from indie labels, over tracks played on devices like the Pioneer Inno that let users record and replay satellite radio broadcasts. The Big Four brought similar litigation against XM and settled those suits between 2007 and 2008. The latest settlement is with Merlin, an organization that represents the interests of many indies, and covers songs transmitted between 2006 and 2010. "This is an important settlement, not just for Merlin's members, but also, I am pleased to say, for the independent community at large," said Merlin CEO Charles Caldas. "This announcement underlines the value that Merlin has brought to its members by creating a body that ensures that they, and not just the major labels, have the opportunity to benefit from settlements such as this one."… Google has picked up Canadian mobile-app developer PushLife, the companies said Monday. The acquisition will give Google content synchronization know-how and technology, and a company that is already familiar with its Android smartphone operating system. PushLife's software automatically synchronizes content on a phone with that stored on a computer in iTunes or Windows Media Player, according to a FAQ posted on PushLife's site. The company released versions of its software for BlackBerry and Android phones in January, and said the platform was also compatible with phones running Nokia's Symbian operating system. PushLife said there is a lot more to do in the mobile space, including "improving the way applications look and making them easier to use." Google hasn’t yet revealed how it plans to take advantage of the PushLife technology. For comparison’s sake, Amazon’s Cloud Drive and Cloud Player are also designed to make music available everywhere, but by streaming rather than synchronization… On the same subject, here’s a letter sent by Amazon to the Big Four earlier this week, originally snagged and posted by DMN:Our launch of Cloud Drive and Cloud Player last week garnered lots of attention and excitement. We thought we'd follow up with you to let you know that customer response has been terrific. Customers have embraced Cloud Drive by uploading photos, documents, music and other digital files and thanking us for providing an easy way for them to keep their files safe.

And, as we expected, by removing the friction associated with managing your personal music files, our launch of Cloud Player has boosted Amazon MP3 sales.

There has been a lot of discussion as to whether Cloud Drive and Cloud Player require licenses from content owners. Here's why they do not:

(1) Cloud Drive is a general online storage service for all digital files, not unlike Google Docs, Microsoft SkyDrive and any number of other internet file backup services. It's your external hard-drive in the cloud. It requires a license from content owners no more than those other internet file back-up services do and no more than makers of external hard drives for PCs do.

(2) Cloud Player is a media management and playback application not unlike Windows Media Player and any number of other media management applications that let customers manage and play their music. It requires a license from content owners no more than those applications do.It's really that simple.

There has also been speculation that we are looking for licenses for Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. We are not looking for licenses for Cloud Drive or Cloud Player as they exist today—as no licensees are required. There are, however, potential enhancements to Cloud Drive and Cloud Player that would require licenses and that we are interested in—like the ability to replace multiple copies of the same music track uploaded by different customers with a single server copy that could be used for all customers with the same track. Licenses permitting us to do that would save storage costs and would be good for customers because they would reduce the number of tracks customers need to upload to Cloud Drive themselves.

Expect to hear more from us on potential licensing in the near future—and please let us know if you have any questions in the meantime.The Amazon Music Team