updated 03:25 pm EST, Wed November 17, 2010
Warner renews Spotify Euro deal in hint at US deal
Warner Music today renewed a deal with Spotify to keep offering its music. The deal is the first among the major labels and was touted as a positive by Warner chief Edgar Bronfman, who in the past had previously criticized free, ad-based music. He wouldn't confirm US plans but was "hopeful" a deal would come soon, AllThingsD heard during the call.
The agreement was accompanied by claimed leaks that alluded to an American deal getting closer. Sony is now thought to have already signed on for Spotify in the US, while Universal is said to be close. Spotify had previously said it would go ahead with at least three major labels and could leave EMI if Warner signed on.
Music labels have had a mixed attitude to Spotify. The unlimited streaming service has been championed as discouraging piracy and is one of the most popular legal services in Europe, but less than ten percent of users pay for the premium subscription that eliminates ads. Mobile apps for Android, iPhone and others have had relatively little effect.
Americans have also tended to skew much more towards pay-per-track services like iTunes and Amazon MP3 where Napster, Rdio and Rhapsody have usually only played a small role. Unconfirmed rumors have swirled that Apple tried to block deals by warning that Spotify would drop sales of paid music.
While discussing Warner's latest results, Bronfman also weighed in on Apple's deal for the Beatles. He downplayed the impact by noting that the industry was already 10 to 12 years into offering music online and that it wouldn't have as much impact as it would have earlier in development. EMI's access to the British band's catalog has been considered one of its few key advantages and will give it an at least temporary advantage while Apple gives the Beatles catalog full promotion.