Spotify streaming music service, based in Sweden, has launched in Canada. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

Online streaming music service Spotify is now available in Canada, five years after the Swedish company announced plans to expand.

Though many other companies now offer a similar service, Spotify was a pioneer in stickhandling the thorny landscape of digital music rights by coming up with a system whereby users simply stream the music they want, without having to pay to own them outright via downloading — or buy entire albums they had no interest in simply for one song.

The compromise helped keep a lid on illegal downloading by coming up with a price point that was financially acceptable to both music listeners and music creators.

A number of competitors offering virtually the same service have launched in Canada in recent years, including Deezer, Rara, Rdio, Slacker and Google Play Music.

As of Tuesday, Spotify customers can pay a monthly fee for a premium all-access account to the company's catalogue of 20 million songs or sign up for a limited ad-supported service for free. The company says it has 40 million customers worldwide, of which one quarter pay for the premium service.

Spotify had indicated in 2009 that it was looking to move into Canada within months but never did until now.

Andres Sehr, Spotify's marketing director, wouldn't say why it took so long for the service to launch in Canada.