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Spotify kicks off in Kiwiland

Many have been anxiously awaiting the announcement, and it has cometh: digital streaming service Spotify is officially available in New Zealand and Australia, opening up its catalogue of more than 16 million tracks and bringing Spotify's availability to a grand total of 15 countries. So what's the deal? And why are brands like Coca-Cola getting involved?

Spotify's pricing plans run from a free version with ads to a $7.49 a month unlimited ad-free package to the premium tier offering ad-free access on mobiles for $12.99. A 30-day free trial for its premium package is available.

Spotify is also releasing two uniquely Kiwi promotions: an NZ Top 40 songs app available in the iTunes a store (which will showcase the weekly New Zealand music charts, which can be sent to users each week as a Spotify playlist), and a New Zealand playlist, Kia Ora New Zealand (featuring Hello Sailor, Ladyhawke, Kids of 88, Dave Dobbyn, Elemeno P, Annabel Fay and more).

"We're unbelievably excited to be here," says cofounder and chief executive Daniel Ek. "We know how much Kiwis love their music and are sure they'll love Spotify."

RIANZ chart manager Phil Matcham said Spotify had helped the music industry in Sweden to start growing again.

“These services help the industry grow and the difference between accessing music through sites such as Spotify and illegal counterparts is that the band gets paid," he said. “Partnering with Spotify also means we’re helping to add local content to the service by highlighting the local and international artists  Kiwis are ranking the most popular."

Kate Vale, Spotify's managing director Australia and New Zealand, called Spotify a "game changer".

"This is a revolutionary new music service that's free, simple, and provides lightning-fast access to one of the world's biggest music libraries. We hope New Zealand music fans will love Spotify as much as they do across Europe and the US."

She told ninemsn Spotify had overtaken iTunes in some markets and, with Ek saying it's more of a platform than a streaming service, brands like Coca-Cola, Absolut, Levi's, Chevy, Converse and Subaru (where one campaign saw each participant listen to 70 minutes of music on its playlist, with a four percent click-through rate to First Car Story), seem to like what they see, perhaps because of the emotional connection people have with music. The opportunities for apps are also interesting, with Spotify/OMD holding a hack fest recently where one developer created an app that was able to monitor the user's heartbeat and adjust the playlist to their pulse. 

"In Sweden and Norway we have overtaken iTunes in those markets and are now the number one digital contributor to the labels in those countries. And we are number two behind iTunes in all European markets and we are quickly catching up … we hope to see that trend occur here."

But Spotify's main competition was really piracy, she says, and at an Ad Age Digital conference, Ek said 500 million people listen to music illegally, which has led to a 52 percent decrease in music industry revenue.

Spotify launches with deals with the major labels as well a raft of independent labels.

Spotify first hit the market in Sweden in 2008 (55 percent of the country's 16-25s listen to Spotify) and now operates in a number of European countries as well as the US with more than 10 million users in total. Users can create playlists, share music with friends, see what others are listening to, and get started playing music by simply searching for an artist, song or album.

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