Spotify is widely expected to finally launch in the US later today, having secured a last minute licensing deal with Warner Music yesterday, according to the New York Times. It means the popular European streaming platform will arrive in America with music from all four major record companies in its catalogue. An announcement is expected at 8am New York time (1pm in the UK).
As much previously reported, Spotify has been eager to launch Stateside for some time, but struggled to convince the American counterparts of the record companies who had licensed the service in Europe to sign up. US label execs expressed concerns about the ad-funded free-to-access version of Spotify, not convinced an ad-funded service can work long term, and worried that in the short term the freemium offer would hinder the growth of the various subscription-based music platforms that have been gaining traction in the American market, including Rhapsody and MOG.
In the end they were talked round through a combination of big upfront advances and a limitation of the freemium offer, limits also put in place in Europe of course. It is expected that Spotify USA will offer the same three levels of service as currently available in Europe – a free limited-play preview service, an all-you-can-eat service for five dollars a month, and a smart-phone compatible service for ten dollars a month. Sign-ups will initially be controlled to an extent by a register-and-wait-for-your-invite system. Registrations, of course, opened last week.
It is expected that Spotify will be one of the services to be bundled into Facebook’s long mooted music channel, which will offer various music services within the Facebook platform. There had been speculation that Facebook may launch their music add-on in sync with Spotify’s arrival Stateside, though that now seems unlikely.
Spotify, of course, has bold ambitions about its American expansion, even though the US is arguably a much more competitive market place in the digital music domain. But there is certainly an excitement about the prospect of Spotify launching amongst much of the US music community that hasn’t really been seen before for a brand new digital service.
Of course, arguably the ‘wow’ factor that Spotify launched with in Europe – all that music, all the time, for free – has now gone, so it remains to be seen if what the Americans get lives up to what they’ve been expected. But certainly Britney Spears is excited. She tweeted last night: “So excited Spotify is FINALLY coming to the US tomorrow! Getting my playlists ready now”.