March 16, 2010
Posted: 07:36 PM ET
The much-talked-about European music service called Spotify is not available in the United States just yet.
But the founder of Spotify - which lets people stream music from a vast online database for free or at a minimal price - indicated on Tuesday in a keynote address at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, that the service will hit the U.S. in early 2010, as planned.
"The most important thing for us when it comes to the U.S. launch is the fact that we want to build the best product that we can," said Daniel Ek, the 26-year-old CEO of the company. "Here you have to strike deals with almost 5,000 different publishers and then the collecting societies and then the labels, but the big thing for us now is just working on the next generation of Spotify and getting it out there."
Some SXSW attendees had hoped Ek would debut the service at the annual technology conference here.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times following his keynote, Ek admitted falling behind a schedule to debut Spotify in in the U.S. "We've always said we wanted to launch in early 2010. We still hope that will be the case," Ek told the Times. "That said, I don't think it matters for us if it's two or three months later. The U.S. is the world's biggest market. And to use an American phrase, we really want to hit it out of the park."
During Tuesday's keynote, Ek demonstrated a version of Spotify on an Android-based Sony Ericsson phone that's expected to hit the U.S. market this year. He pulled up a South by Southwest-themed playlist, and a mini-player appeared on the phone’s screen that let him play, fast-forward and rewind songs. The audience seemed to be impressed with the look of the interface and quality of the audio.
He also described future implementation strategies around the increase of social features and collaborative playlists.
"Music is the most social object," Ek said. "We want to make music like water."
Spotify has more than 7 million users. Of those, about 320,000 pay a monthly fee to subscribe to its premium service, up from 250,000 last year, Ek said.
Spotify is a downloadable client for Windows and Mac users that lets you search, browse and stream a deep collection of music. The service has become popular in recent years in Europe for its speed and the fact that some of its services are free and the rest are relatively inexpensive. Due to music licensing restrictions, it is currently only available in United Kingdom, Finland, France, Norway, Spain and Sweden. It is available both as a premium monthly subscription service and as a free version supported by advertising. (For more details on the service, check out this FAQ).
The arrival of Spotify in U.S. would add to an increasingly crowded online music space.
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