Spotify is a web-based music service that lets you listen to anything in its catalogue for free, provided that you don't mind your aural pleasure being occasionally interrupted by adverts.

It's picked up a lot of press coverage of late, not least because Spotify brought The Beatles to the desktop - something Apple spectacularly failed to do with iTunes. It's even been hailed by some as iTunes' successor.

Earlier this year, Spotify ended its stipulation that new UK users could join by invite only. This is partly why the service is seen to have gained in popularity overnight, but this can also be credited to its copy protection-free tracks.

Spotify can be used wherever there's a Wi-Fi connection or 3G signal. The service requires only a 256K connection, so you don't need broadband to enjoy it. And Spotify for iPods, iPhones and any brand of MP3 player or mobile phone you like is next on its developer's to-do list.

In the meantime, you can buy tracks you like from 7Digital. Songbird has also signed up, while iPod owners can make use of an embedded iTunes link to buy albums.

For many people, the concept of being able to listen to long-lost songs from their youth - or simply to access and enjoy for free music by less mainstream artists - is where the excitement lies. And Spotify lets you make your own playlists and then share them with friends.

If all this sounds familiar, that's because it is. Elements of Spotify can be seen in, while it was Napster that first sold the idea of streaming music on an all-you-can-eat monthly basis.

Finally, there's another good reason why Spotify is beloved of music and tech fans: it's a lightweight, interactive app that you can use with your Facebook, Twitter and blog accounts, giving you something to tweet about, as well as to hum along to.

We get you started using the service.

1. Head to and decide which type of account you'd like. There's a choice of a free but advert-supported version, a Day Pass that costs 99p or a Premium month-long subscription costing £9.99. We chose the free version and, to be honest, haven't found the adverts at all troubling.

Spotify: step 1

2. Next, create your Spotify account. Enter your username and email details. You'll get an onscreen confirmation that your account has been created before being prompted to download the installer. Click Download now and save the .exe file, then Run it. Vista users will be prompted to okay this.

Spotify: step 2