Thousands protest Spotify’s new music limits

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The backlash against Spotify’s changes to its free service appears to be growing by the hour. More than 5,300 comments have been left on the company’s blogpost announcing that it would halve the 20-hour listening limit and impose a five-play cap on each individual song.

Spotify even had to apologise that its comment system was overloaded by “higher than normal traffic volumes”, creating difficulties for some people trying to post.

Early on in the discussion, after the changes were announced on Thursday morning, the deluge of criticism was well balanced by those defending Spotify, arguing that £5/€5 or £10/€10 a month was inexpensive compared to buying CDs or other services.

But the weekend seems to have brought out the trolls in force, and more recent comments must make bruising reading for Spotify’s employees.

“To be blunt, I find this move disgustingly greedy on your part… Goodbye,” says one.

“Fair enough, it was good while it lasted. I would like to point out that when I found Spotify I stopped pirating music, and when these changes start I will go back to pirating,” says another.

Reading the comments, Grooveshark seems likely to be the main beneficiary of these thousands of disaffected Spotify users, in spite of its uncertain legal status. The Florida-based company provides a very similar on-demand service, but through the browser rather than a dedicated desktop app.

Two weeks ago, Google kicked Grooveshark’s mobile app off Android Market, after a similar move by Apple last year. Universal Music is in the process of taking legal action against Grooveshark, although a similar suit with EMI seems to have ended with the latter licensing rights to its catalogue.

Deezer, a French on-demand site, and We7, based in the UK, have also been getting frequent mentions as alternatives.

Spotify denies it has made the changes to improve the sign-up rate to its subscription services – although that wouldn’t be an altogether awful outcome, given its precarious financial state. That $100m funding round led by DST and Kleiner Perkins, valuing the company at $1bn, is still not quite finalised, according to people close to the talks.

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