Spotify screams 'Hello America!'

At 8:00AM EST on Thursday, Stockholm-based streaming music service Spotify officially launched in invitation-only beta in the United States.

Spotify's service in Europe has gained critical acclaim over the last few years, and the rumor that it would launch in North America has persisted for nearly two years.

Today, American users can submit their email addresses to participate in the beta of the free service, or simply jump right in and start using the Spotify Premium or Unlimited service today by paying $4.99 or $9.99 a month for access.

Often compared to Pandora, Rhapsody, and MOG, Spotify lets users listen to 20 hours of music per month for free. The service's catalog has more than 15 million tracks available, and users can listen to a single track up to five times per month.

Spotify uses a TCP peer-to-peer (i.e. non Web-based) network for music streaming on demand. According to the unofficial Spotify blog Pansentient.com, only 8.8% of music that users access is actually coming from Spotify's servers. 35.8% of the music comes from the peer to peer network, and 55.4% comes from local caches. These statistics, of course, are exclusive to desktop Spotify users, because on mobile devices it actually all comes from Spotify's servers.

Speaking of mobile devices, Spotify's exclusive hardware partner for this service launch is Motorola Mobility, which says it will be running a number of marketing campaigns that give Motorola tablet and smartphone users early access.

"We are very excited to be bringing Spotify to the U.S., and to be working with partners such as Motorola towards our goal of making all the world's music available for everyone to enjoy, whenever they want it and wherever they are," Ken Parks Chief Content Officer and Managing Director, Spotify, North America.

In addition to Motorola hardware users, early access to Spotify is available to the first 100,000 users of Klout, the social media indexing service on Thursday.

Spotify executives told CNN this week that this is the company's biggest launch yet, and it will be invitation only for several weeks. Following the initial invite-only phase, the service will launch publicly.

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