Spotify's free music streaming service is currently available only on a computer, but a free mobile version is in the works. The Sweden-based music streaming provider has struck deals with all of the Big Three major labels for a mobile offering that would be supported by ads, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cites "people familiar with the matter." At the moment, Spotify's mobile users have to pay a monthly charge.
Ads wouldn't be the only difference between the new mobile service and the paid option. The Journal's sources said the free mobile offering would mainly serve up Pandora-like custom radio stations. Free mobile users would be able to stream a certain amount of songs on demand, as with regular Spotify, but there'd be a cap on how many.
Spotify has six million subscribers globally for its $10-a-month premium service and 20 million active users overall. The major record companies — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group — all have ownership positions in Spotify. One Journal source says the free mobile deals could lead to an ad-revenue windfall for the labels.
Earlier this week, Spotify debuted a new Spotify Artists website, disclosing more about how much it pays to copyright holders for its streams. No word on that yet from proud Luddite Thom Yorke. Another streaming provider, Rdio, recently rolled out its own free mobile radio offering.
Meanwhile, Beats by Dre headphone maker Beats Electronics just announced its Beats Music streaming service will launch in January, with Trent Reznor as its chief creative officer. In a December 5 Reddit "Ask Me Anything," the Nine Inch Nails leader, asked about Beats Music and artist fairness, said: "I've spent the last 2+ years (along with Rob [Sheridan, Reznor's longtime visual collaborator]) designing this platform and genuinely look forward to presenting it to the world. Our goal was to create something we would genuinely be excited to use ourselves that focuses on the joy of discovering great music, ease of use, and was built from the ground up as something that becomes an asset to the musician as well. There's much you'll hear me say on this in the near future."