The Swedish music streaming service Spotify launched in 2008 and has quickly emerged as one of the most viable competitors to Apple‘s iTunes online music store. It isn’t yet available in the United States — a 2011 launch is planned — but the 13 million song catalog and support from the big four record labels, along with a range of smaller indies, gives the service a lot of pull with people who seek an alternative to iTunes. The big problem, other than the whole “not available in America” thing, is that the service offers only streaming access to music. That all changes today, however, with the launch of Spotify’s new music download service.
Spotify music purchases are built around your playlists, Engadget reports. Users of the free service can purchase song collections — either individually selected or via a convenient “Buy Playlist” button for compilations — with prices dropping as you buy larger bundles. Individual track prices start at €1.00 apiece, but they eventually come down to €0.60 apiece if your purchase reaches 100 songs.
Also new is the ability to manage the contents of your iPod — classic, Nano and Shuffle are supported — from the PC/Mac Spotify application, which bears a strong resemblance to Apple’s own iTunes music player. Any songs purchased through the new download service can of course be synced, along with any MP3s that might have already lived in your Spotify playlists. Smartphone owners aren’t left out; the iOS and Android Spotify apps now support the wireless syncing of MP3 playlists from your computer to your phone. This feature was formerly available only to those who paid for the monthly Premium subscription, but it is now available to all users.
These updates essentially put Spotify side-by-side with iTunes as a competitor. The iTunes library is larger and the application’s playlist management features trump Spotify, but the bundle-based download pricing, wireless playlist sync and newly added iPod support put the Swedish company on roughly equal footing. Now all it has to do is get a U.S. release…