Spotify Unveils Exclusive Led Zeppelin Deal, Free Mobile Service

Daniel Ek Spotify CEO Speaking - P 2013
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Daniel Ek Spotify CEO Speaking - P 2013

UPDATED: CEO Daniel Ek says the firm won't charge for mobile access anymore as the distinction between computers and tablets doesn't make sense anymore.

Spotify on Wednesday made the launch of a free streaming service for tablets, both iPads and Android devices, and other mobile devices official. So far, mobile access required users to pay for a premium version of the otherwise free – advertising-supported – service.

The firm, founded about five years ago in Sweden, said it has obtained the exclusive rights to stream Led Zeppelin's music.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced the news at a press event at the digital music company's new New York headquarters, saying the free mobile launch comes as the distinction between PCs, laptops and tablets doesn't make any sense anymore.

Led Zeppelin has so far refused to license its music to streaming services. Ek thanked his partners on the deal "for having faith in us." And he quipped: ""I know I'm not alone. I can't wait to get the lead out."

He also touted the success of Spotify, saying it saw 4.5 billion hours of music streamed last year alone. "Our users are so passionate about music," Ek said. And the CEO said the firm's business model of not focusing on music ownership has become dominant. "Access has become the leading model" for digital music, he said about the company's freemium model.

He said the company has reached a conversion rate of "well over 20 percent" premium services despite initial concerns by music labels.

More than 1.5 billion playlists have been created on Spotify so far, with more than 1.5 million currently being added per day, according to Ek. "They are like mixtapes, but for the 21st century, but on steroids," he said.

Ek also highlighted some of Spotify's contributions to the music industry. "We pay out more than 70 percent of our revenue to rightsholders," he said. Royalty payments earlier this year topped the previously set year-end 2013 goal of $1 billion, he said.

Ek hinted at the benefits for artists by touting that Daft Punk's latest album has been streamed millions and millions of time since its launch. "We know how hard it is for artists to make a decent living," Ek also said. "We are leading the way on this one."

Ek said that the new mobile offer is "truly music for everyone," provides the "best free music experience in the history of the smartphone" and helps to "reawaken" people's love for music. He added: "We don't want to make another radio-type service."

The CEO suggested that allowing people to listen to more music helps convert them to premium services. The more they listen, the more likely they are to pay for additional music, he said.

Ek also said that the company is launching in 20 new markets, including Colombia, Hungary, Peru and the Czech Republic. So far, the firm's service has been available in 35 markets.

Twitter: @georgszalai