Apple may have tried to block Spotify in US

Responding at the D10 conference to the question, "Did Apple try to keep Spotify out of the US?", Spotify director Sean Parker said, "There was some indication that might have been happening."

Walt Mossberg, Daniel Ek and Sean Parker at D10.
(Credit: Rafe Needleman/CNET)

Parker continued, "It's a very small industry. But one of our core competencies is our licensing framework. We are always in negotiation. We're in constant renegotiation. In that process, you hear things. There's a sense that Apple was threatened by what we were doing." But it would have been a small part of Apple's business, he adds.

On the other hand, he previously said in the interview that the capability to buy and download tracks, for playback when users are offline or in the car, is a growing part of Spotify's business.

On stage with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, Parker said that the bar for a good music service was set by Napster, which he co-founded in 1999. It was easy to use, and had a great library. "But when I saw Spotify, I saw that it met the bar and exceeded it."

Referring back to Napster and illegal file sharing, Parker said of Spotify, "We like to say that we're competing with piracy."

Ek reinforced this. "The music industry has declined from US$45 billion to US$15 billion," he said. "But consumption of music is at an all-time high. There are half a billion people illegally file sharing music. That's a huge, addressable market." Interviewer Walt Mossberg pointed out that Steve Jobs also said this.

Ek pointed out that Spotify is far better for long-tail content play than even iTunes. "The vast majority of songs on iTunes are never bought by anyone," he said. "On Spotify, 80 per cent of our songs get listened to."

Parker added, "For artists, their back catalogue is being monetised."

Spotify isn't a random-playback product like Pandora, yet Ek says that the service's core value is discovery. "We're really good at making it easier to find new music through playlists." He added that Spotify is "more driven by discovery, since the additional cost of listening to a song is zero".

Spotify reports 10 million active users, 3 million of which are paid.

Mossberg asked why Apple can't just turn around and launch a competing service. "They probably can," said Ek. "But the value of Spotify is that we have 700 million playlists."

Parker said, "We are able to combine social with music, because we have a free tier of service."


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