Despite Deal With Sony, Spotify Unlikely to Launch in U.S. Anytime Soon

Swedish streaming music service has to strike deals with three other major labels

Spotify founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon
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Spotify, the free streaming-radio service that has generated 10 million European listeners over the past two years, may be one step closer to a U.S. launch now that the Swedish company has signed a deal with Sony Music — but that still doesn't mean a deal is imminent.

Spotify reps did not return interview requests, and Sony reps wouldn't comment, but a source familiar with the deal suggests there's still a long way to go. "This is a step in the process for [Spotify]," the source tells Rolling Stone. "It's not my expectation that there's going to be some kind of super-compressed launch window now." 

Spotify's founder, Daniel Ek, has promised such a launch for months. But to make it happen, the company almost certainly needs to strike content deals with the remaining three major record labels — Universal, Warner and EMI. Reps for those labels wouldn't comment, but almost a year ago, Warner's chief executive, Edgar Bronfman Jr., declared his company would not support this type of business model: "Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed."

A major-label source suggests Spotify, even in Europe, has yet to prove it can upgrade enough users to the roughly $16-a-month "premium" fee to make a deal worthwhile. "I can tell you there is not a big rush to do a Spotify deal," says the source. "I guarantee if they do [launch], it probably won't be with much of the music in the U.S."

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