Spotify CEO talks up plans for US and mobiles

Daniel Ek
Spotify's Daniel Ek envisions the company moving into mobile and, potentially, downloads

Having hit the headlines in Europe, music service Spotify aims to launch in the US – as well as on mobiles. Founder and CEO Daniel Ek also confirmed to us that it's looking at downloads as a way to further enhance the appeal of the service – named after a blend of spot and identify.

So is Spotify an iTunes killer? "We wouldn't necessarily describe ourselves in that way," muses the founder, "but Spotify certainly offers an alternative music platform to iTunes and one which enables users to listen to what they want, when they want, which up until now hasn't been available."

This previous inability to listen to any music you want at any time is the central idea behind Spotify. "That's the main problem we've focused on solving. The key for us is in offering the latest content and retaining users.

"This might be by giving them better recommendations, or it might be by getting music to them faster. There are so many ways where we can improve the service, but I still think it's about providing a service that is easy to use, clean and quick."

And what about launching elsewhere, including the US? Ek says it will happen, but not quite yet. "A Spotify launch in the US is absolutely part of our plans, but we want to fully establish ourselves in Europe before that happens.

"We've launched in eight territories already, including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Finland, Norway and Sweden, but our aim, in time, is to be everywhere."

What about downloads?

So could downloads really form part of the Spotify offering? Ek says it's definitely of interest. "There are lots of different things that we could consider, downloads being just one option. However, our focus is on accessing content rather than owning content.

"In terms of downloads, we already work with different partners in this area, such as iTunes and 7digital, as well as other partners in local markets. Downloadable content is definitely of interest - whether that would be paid-for or ad-funded, we would have to wait and see - but is not in our core revenue model."

Ek says download formats are not an issue, as Spotify would work with its partners – and downloads are not in the service's "immediate plans."

Mobile app on the cards

What about a mobile application then? Ek says he can't comment on specifics, but says "we're extremely excited about platforms such as the iPhone, as it enables third-party developers such as ourselves to develop interesting functionality". The appointment of ex-Yahoo man Gustav Söderström suggests it's certainly an area Spotify is very interested in.

"We're investigating a number of ways in which we can integrate the service into other platforms and devices. It's great for the mobile industry in general if it becomes more open and we see people use mobile services a lot more. This is something we are keen to explore."

Global Editor-in-Chief

After watching War Games and Tron more times that is healthy, Paul (Twitter, Google+) took his first steps online via a BBC Micro and acoustic coupler back in 1985, and has been finding excuses to spend the day online ever since. This includes roles editing .net magazine, launching the Official Windows Magazine, and now as Global EiC of TechRadar.