Nobody's talking, but the music service Spotify, which claims more than 10 million users in Europe, has reportedly taken a step toward launching in the U.S. According to the web site All Things Digital, Spotify has closed a deal with Sony-BMG to make the major's music available through the Spotify service when (or if) it launches here. Cnet is confirming the deal. The Swedish company still has to reach agreements with the three other majors — and that appears to have been the hangup to getting off the ground on this side of the Atlantic.
At issue is Spotify's big draw for fans: it's free — as long as you're willing to watch and/or listen to commercials. That's what most of those 10 million users abroad do. Less than a million, reportedly, have signed up for paid, ad-free subscriptions and fewer still have opted for the "premium" service that allows them to listen on mobile devices. That just doesn't seem to be enough paying ears to entice the majors so far. And Spotify will need to be able to offer more than one major label's music to launch a credible service in this country. A few years ago, SpiralFrog tried to offer a similar service with only two majors and died. Spotify DOES have buy-in from all four majors for its European service.
Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that Apple and Google are in negotiations with the majors for so-called "cloud" services of their own. But for now, the majors are still relying primarily on CD sales for their income — augmented by iTunes downloads. And the majors will be loathe to upset Apple by signing with a potential competitor like Spotify.