Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Good Bet: We Can Stop Betting on Spotify’s U.S. Launch Next Week

Alrighty. So we know that Spotify has a new round of funding, and deals with most of the big music labels, and we know that the music service itself says it’s coming to the U.S. soon. So when will it actually open for business in America?

My informed guess: Next week. Because that’s what Spotify reps have been telling U.S. label executives.

Or maybe later! Spotify is Spotify, so anyone who has paid any attention to this story will be reflexively skeptical that Spotify will show up in the U.S. until Spotify shows up in the U.S. Meanwhile, Spotify PR reps decline to comment.

While the service has agreements in place with three of the four big music labels, it still doesn’t have a signed deal with Warner Music Group, which normally would be a warning flag for this kind of guesstimating. But people I’ve talked to who are familiar with negotiations believe the two companies are close enough that a deal will be inked before the launch.

Meanwhile, if you’re in the U.S. and want to get a sense of what Spotify will look like, go check out Rdio or MOG or Rhapsody or Napster (for now — that last one may not make it much longer). Each one offers a similar service, where $10 a month gets you unlimited, ad-free, on-demand music on your PC or iPhone or Android handset.

The big difference between Spotify and its competitors is that in the past, Spotify has also offered unlimited free music, with ads, on your PC. But over time Spotify has cut back the amount of free music it offers, and now only gives away 10 hours a month in Europe.

It’s possible that some of those terms will change with the U.S. launch, but I’d expect them to stay quite similar. I also wouldn’t expect a grand PR push when Spotify does open up. Then again, they’re going to get plenty of (even more) free press on launch day.


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