updated 05:50 pm EST, Wed February 23, 2011
Spotify deal with Universal said weeks away
Spotify is near landing its most important and possibly last remaining deal before it can launch in the US, sources said Wednesday. The company is reportedly a "few weeks away" from a deal with Universal, the largest label and often considered the most important for the agreement. Its size would be enough that Reuters heard Spotify would be willing to forgo a deal with Warner.
Plans aren't certain, and there are internal doubts at Universal whether or not it will still go ahead, the tips asserted. Warner hasn't said how its progress was but has signalled that it's more open to a deal where just a year earlier it had been antagonistic.
Although none have ever been publicly confirmed, deals were commonly assumed to have been struck with EMI and Sony in recent weeks. Spotify has allegedly been waiting until it had the majority of US music in its catalog before going ahead, and Universal's clout has been considered the tipping point.
Spotify has been promising a US debut for much of the past two years but has repeatedly had to delay its expansion beyond Europe without any indication of an agreement. For most of the time, the lack of a deal has been blamed on labels hesitant worried about a lack of revenue. Only a fraction of Spotify's European customers pay for its Premium subscription plan, and only the sheer popularity of its ad-sponsored free service has kept it as the top source of music revenue in the continent.
Spotify's chances in the US aren't clear. iPhone access, considered one of the important cornerstones of Premium access, may be effectively banned or rendered difficult by Apple's new iTunes in-app subscription rules. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said the rule is only for publishers, but it hasn't answered definitively whether or not music subscription providers will be forced to either hike prices or drop the iPhone in favor of Android.