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Spotify music service coming 'soon' to U.S.

July 07, 2011|By Alex Pham, Los Angeles Times

Spotify, the much-touted European digital music service, announced on its website that it would "soon be landing on U.S. shores."

The Wednesday morning proclamation, which had been widely expected, was still surprising because Spotify had not yet reached a much-needed deal with Warner Music Group to play songs from the record label's extensive catalog, according to industry sources knowledgeable of the negotiations.

Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek, who promised last year to bring the service to the U.S., has secured agreements with the other three major record labels: Universal Music Group, EMI Group and Sony Music Entertainment.

Although nothing stops Spotify from launching without Warner, the Swedish music company would be hard-pressed to compete against other music services already in the U.S. market without a full complement of songs.

Warner, which declined to comment, owns the rights to a treasure trove of music from Bruno Mars, Green Day, Led Zeppelin, Cole Porter and Eric Clapton, to name a few.

Most industry executives expect Spotify and Warner to eventually reach an agreement, though as of Wednesday afternoon that had not happened.

Spotify's entry into the U.S. has been highly anticipated, largely because the service is so popular in Europe. The company claims 10 million registered users in Europe, including 1 million subscribers who pay a monthly fee for its premium service.

Its popularity partly stems from its easy-to-use interface, which lets users sample millions of songs from their mobile phones or on their computers.

Some argue, however, that Spotify's success with consumers is also because of its generous free offering, which lets users listen to virtually any song in its 10 million title catalog for up to 10 hours a month. The free service is partially subsidized by ads, but not entirely. As a result, the company has said to have lost millions of dollars from its free offering.

Spotify has not said whether it will offer the same level of free access to consumers in the U.S.

A Spotify spokeswoman declined to provide details on when the company plans to begin offering its service in the U.S. or how much it would charge.

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