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.
Spotify founder Daniel Ek has persuaded big record companies that it is possible to finance this service via adverts and subscriptions.
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.
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.
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.
I use live streaming to check out new bands. I'd rarely spend money on an artist or band I'd never heard, and so it's a nice try before you buy tool.
Nothing will ever replace buying physical copies of albums for me. I'll always buy CDs and records for as long as they are available. Ian Arthur, Glasgow
I discovered Spotify just over a month ago. It is amazing. Being able to get any song I want when I want it, legally and for free, is brilliant.
If the movie industry got something like this going, piracy would die completely. Andrew, Ballycastle, Northern Ireland
I think Spotify is an excellent service as it allows me to listen to a wider range of music that I wouldn't necessarily purchase.
Any songs or albums that I do really enjoy I will still purchase. Despite being very good, the sound fidelity is not as high as a CD. Larry, East Bergholt
I think that more needs to be done to encourage the actual purchasing of music from high street retailers, otherwise the compact disc as we know it will be gone.
I prefer having a shelf full of CDs that i can look through as apposed to a virtual library of music. Luke, Somerset
Streaming is the natural and most exciting way to deliver music. Those shiny discs don't make sense in the world of high-speed broadband and digital players.
Within ten years, we'll all be listening to music that has been delivered directly and digitally. Anda D, London
Spotify has transformed music for me (I'm 44) - I have told so many people about it! Why buy music? No more CDs. Jon Tisdall, Berks
Spotify seem to have it just right. If I think of a song I want to hear, or hear a new song and want to listen to the album, then I can - instantly. Whatever I want, whenever I want.
I also love being able to hear a track, think of a friend who'd like it, and just send it so that they can also enjoy it instantly - thus sharing a mood, or a shared memory.
It's reintroduced what music can mean in my life - the way it can invoke emotion like no other medium - and for that, I'll happily pay the subscription.
I work at my computer most of the day, so listening using Spotify is fine for me, and when it isn't... well, I can still listen to albums the old fashioned way. Damian, London, UK
I stream a lot, usually radio stations. With Spotify i don't need to listen to the radio now, I can create my own playlist and off I go.
I think it would reduce the amount of songs i downloaded, as I know I can always listen to it again on Spotify when I get my laptop out and plug in the mobile broadband.
The introduction of mobile streaming will no doubt have seriously negative effects on radio stations and record companies... since where is the incentive to buy it?
In regards to the co-founder's remarks, people will not spent 79p downloading a tune just so they can have it on the tube! So mobile streaming will really affect this, especially if mobile internet costs are free. Rory Kay, London
I use We7. They have got a fairly broad catalogue and it helps me to experience different groups and tastes in music that I might otherwise ignore.
The main drawback, though, is that you do have to be online, so I can't listen in the car, for example.
I'm hoping that when the Zune finally makes an appearance over here, we'll have the same monthly deal as the US has and I'll be able to "move" my listening experience to an offline device. Philip, Cambridge
Now that Media Centre PCs are becoming more popular, streaming is definitely the way to go. Spotify is compatible with my MCE remote, so I can relax in my arm chair and have all the music I want on my hi-fi.
It's also possible for me to stream the same music around my house using cheap hardware (around a quid), and a wireless router.
The only problem is music in the car, but with an iPhone, Spotify, and an unlimited data plan, this soon will be no problem either. Craig, Bagillt, Wales
I stream music on last.fm, mainly to listen to things I wouldn't buy or to discover new music. But I also buy CDs. It would be a shame if physical copies of music disappeared in the near future.
Having a booklet and artwork for your favourite music is much better than just some MP3 files on your computer. Danny, Brighton
Why do you assume younger generations expect music for free. I am 18-years-old, and while the record labels are dinosaurs that need to change or die, I personally like having a physical product.
A file on a computer isn't special in the same way as a CD package or a vinyl. The album experience is greatly enriched by packaging, because the CD booklet and artwork are all part of that one package.
The album experience is not the same without it. I know a lot of people who are music connoisseurs and spend most of their income on music who are like this. Sam
I like to stream music over the net. Downloading wastes a lot of space of my hard disk. Also, with streaming radios I discover a lot of new bands and songs. Ritesh Soni, Bangalore, Karnataka
I think spotify is great. I always use it to listen to new albums and bands and if its any good, I go out and buy it. At least now I know I'm getting my money's worth when I buy a CD Abhijeet Ahluwalia, London
Spotify is the best thing since sliced bread. My playlist consists of all the albums that I have lost over the years.
It might not be mobile but most people can pick up an internet connection on a laptop somewhere. I use it on the PC in my living room and just bought some decent speakers to utilise the top quality streaming. I use the free service and really don't mind the ad every now and then.
£10 a month is a bit over the top for me to spend just to get rid of this. Excellent work, can't wait for progress. Steve, Doncaster
Since using Spotify I've spent a fortune downloading files, because now I know exactly what I am buying. Music streaming services like Spotify are great for everybody - consumers, artists, record companies, music retailers etc. David Burns, Dunfermline, Scotland
I have used Spotify since it launched, and as a result, I have stopped looking for music, and have even stopped listening to CDs.
I don't own a portable MP3 player, and am nearly always near a internet-connected PC, so Spotify is perfect for me. Spotify has, for me, made the internet worthwhile. Sol, London
Record labels are still not going far enough to provide the kind of service the public wants at a price we're all willing to pay.
Ten pounds a month is still way too expensive for a stream only service. There are thousands of free radio stations that provide genre specific music which isn't interrupted by advertising. T
ime to wake up music industry, before it's too late! Mark Heaton, Broadstairs, UK
I've been using Spotify for the last two months and I have found it an excellent way of listening to all the albums I wasn't sure about downloading. And through that I suppose I have been downloading less.
If I like the look of a song or album, or if it's one of those must have songs, then I will download, for the fact that I feel I have ownership and also I am able to play the song on my iPod when in the car or walking etc.
The other great thing about Spotify is the ability to share with friends different playlists, so it brings out a creative element for music lovers without dishing out the money to download songs or dealing with the waste of burning onto a CD.
All in all, it's a positive for streaming, and with the possibility of 'mobile' streaming, Spotify would have everything... but there is something about the scratch of a needle on vinyl that no digital interface can beat! Aminder, Manchester
There are perhaps 50 tracks since 1940 that I would listen to. I don't want the CD, just the odd track and it's on tap with Spotify. I'm not a collector, just a young old timer. Phil, bournemouth
I like Spotify, even with ads. I think you finally reach a point with your CDs, MP3s etc where they become a pain to manage and organize.
You can just search and aggregate anything you can think of on Spotify, and if it went mobile or "offline" as they are planning it would be a "killer" app. Phil Duckworth, St Albans
Chips with everything and quality goes out of the window! LW Acres, Southampton
Spotify sounds interesting. I tried to view it, but I got this message: "This product is not available in your country yet."
Maybe the Click team was unaware of this, but it was a bit disappointing. John Lancaster, Isumi, Japan
The whole concept of 'owning' music is becoming less and less meaningful, with record companies controlling exactly what you can and can't do, and enforcing the fact that you're simply buying a license.
Spotify is the first solution I've seen that is better than piracy, and it deserves to succeed. And it means I don't need to keep my house full of worthless little bits of licensed plastic. Steven T, London