updated 04:50 pm EDT, Fri June 10, 2011
Spotify gets Universal and close to EMI
Spotify has landed what might be its most important deal for the US, sources claimed Friday. A deal was reportedly struck with Universal this week and left just Warner to come onboard. That deal was said by AllThingsD to be closer than before, although it wasn't expected to start anything until July at the earliest.
Universal's agreement had been rumored for months. The deal is considered vital since it was the key to having most major label music and enough that Spotify could temporarily pass over Warner if it wanted to launch as soon as possible. It will more likely wait until all majors are onboard to keep an incomplete collection from being a liability.
Plans for the service would supposedly mimic the European strategy, would now include a limited free service with unlimited streaming only for subscribers. Spotify would keep to the widely expected $10 monthly fee.
Plans for an American launch have been public since 2009 but have been set back for reasons that have never been officially discussed. Most often, the blame has been put on labels skittish about the low upsell rate for subscribers, where less than 10 percent pay the roughly 10 euros a month. Decisions to curb the number of free hours and plays per song have been meant to push more listeners to the paid version.
A US launch faces stiffer competition, not just against iTunes in its home territory but also alternative services. Rdio, Slacker, and others have a mild amount of popularity in the US, and Spotify's cult-like status in Europe may have little impact on the other side of the Atlantic.