Spotify hits 320,000 paid for users

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Spotify has convinced 320,000 to pay for its premium service, but there's still no US launch date for the streaming music service.

Daniel Ek, the 26-year-old chief executive of Spotify, took to the main stage to take part in a keynote debate on the final day of South by Southwest interactive at which he was widely expected to announce a US launch date for the service.

It soon became apparent that wasn't on the cards, with Ek claiming that organising the rights needed for Spotify in the US was a fearsomely complex process involving over 5,000 publishers, collecting societies and labels.

Refusing to be drawn on a date for a US launch, Ek instead used the keynote to demonstrate Spotify to the largely American crowd, reveal a few interesting facts and figures and to talk about how he sees the service developing.

User growth

According to Ek, Spotify now has around seven million users across the six European countries it operates in, and it's adding around 1,000 paid users a day. Currently, 320,000 people pay 10 a month for the service, meaning Spotify is generating a significant amount of cash each month.

Ek claimed the company is putting a lot of effort into next-gen' Spotify, and that it's opted not to go for a traditional web start-up approach of launching new features early and often.

He talked at length about his aims for the service, and was often most specific about what Spotify was not: it's not going to become a social network, instead seeking to use the existing social graph of Twitter and Facebook.

He explained that the amount of music in Spotify 10 million tracks means discovery is a key issue that needs to be addressed.

"Search is only one solution," he said, adding, "what Spotify won't be is another social network. We'll piggy-back on existing social networks to use their social graph and functions. You'll be able to use that to discover new playlists and what people are listening to."

Not 'free' music

It's also not, Ek claimed, about free music.

He said complex and proprietary digital technology and standards had hindered the cause of digital music and was at pains to say Spotify wasn't "free music versus pay music."

He also argued that even the unpaid for version of Spotify wasn't free. "People label it as free, but it's not people pay with their time, listening to targeted ads and we're seeing good results with those."