Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 17:09 UK

Spotify streams for music lovers

The founder of Spotify, Daniel Ek, talks about the future for Spotify

Music streaming service Spotify is only a few months old but it has already attracted much attention from music lovers.

The site allows its members to create and listen to heir own playlists of songs streamed to them online.

The same peer-to-peer technology as found in file-sharing is used to deliver near-CD quality and tracks that playback almost instantly.

The service is free for listeners willing to hear audio and on-screen adverts (which appear between roughly every five songs), although users can otherwise pay £10 per month for a premium service which enables them to listen to songs without adverts.

Mobile streams

Spotify founder Daniel Ek has persuaded big record companies that it is possible to finance this service via adverts and subscriptions.

CD going into laptop
Spotify founder Daniel Ek believes in working with the music fans

"But it's not really just about monetising through adverts, or through getting subscribers. The fact is they might buy the occasional ticket or merchandise," he said.

The site is not yet making any money in the fierce music market, but it has signed a deal to sell music downloads via online music store 7digital.

It also plans to launch on mobiles and expand to the US by the end of the year.

"The ability to take the music with you is definitely something we are looking at doing," confirmed Mr Ek. But he said he wants to make sure the site gets this "right" from the outset.

'On the offensive'

We7 is another ad-supported streaming and downloading service that grafts a 10-second advertisement on the front of a downloaded song.

Co-founder and former Genesis singer Peter Gabriel has said that keeping labels, advertisers and users satisfied is a real challenge.

But digital music has come a long way over the last decade since the days of Napster being the main file-sharing host on the net.

Babies listening to music
All you can eat music streaming on the go could be the future

The music industry's initial response was to cry foul over illicit downloading and to go on the offensive against a new generation of file-sharers.

Changing models

A recent landmark court case saw the men behind The Pirate Bay sentenced to a year in jail after being found guilty of breaking copyright law.

They were ordered to pay $4.5m (£3m) in damages.

While file-sharing site Kazaa agreed to pay $100m (£53m) in damages to the record industry following a series of high-profile legal battles. The peer-to-peer network has now become a legal music download service.

Napster has also launched the world's largest online music store offering tracks from all of the major record labels and independents.

But artists too are experimenting with innovative business models by offering their music free of charge online and making money from touring instead.

In 2007, Radiohead allowed fans to pay what they thought the band's album In Rainbows was worth for a limited time.

While Groove Armada fans were able to receive the first track of their EP for free, with the offer of additional tracks the more songs they shared.

Do you stream music over the net on your desktop? Or do you prefer the convenience of downloading? Send us your views.

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