European upstart music service Spotify just announced that it is putting new limits on its millions of free account holders. "[I]t's vital that we continue offering an on-demand free service to you and millions more like you," the company said in its announcement, "but to make that possible we have to put some limits in place going forward."

CNet's Greg Sandoval reported yesterday that some new limits were coming, based on unnamed but clearly well-informed sources. Free account holders today are able to listen to up to 20 hours of music on-demand, song by song and album by album, each month. The new limits will allow 20 hours for the first 6 months of any user's new account. After 6 months, free listening will be cut down to 10 hours. That means 20 minutes on average, every day of the month, for free. That's still generous, as far as I'm concerned.

The company will offer free 30 day trials of unlimited listening for the month of May. Here in the United States, Spotify is generally unavailable.

Spotify is a joy to use and free account holders are sure to be unhappy about the changes (maybe they should help pay the bills at the company and be happy for the service).

Spotify head of communications Jim Butcher Tweeted just hours before the announcement was made that his gumshield (like a mouth protector for boxers) was in. Spotify UI designer Tobias Ahlin said just after the news went public: "This is a day when I'll be a sad panda and you'll try to hit me with sticks." Spotify Chief Product Officer Gustav Söderström : "Very tough day today..."

Good luck guys, and thanks for all the music.