Mark Zuckerberg's favorite music streaming site, Spotify, will open its doors to American users as early as next week. But in the United Kingdom, the Swedish startup just secured a potentially game-changing contract with Virgin Media to offer their services directly through broadband, cable television, and telephone lines. This means that Spotify customers, both free and paid, will be able to access the cloud music service from set-top boxes and home phones, but more importantly, the deal will allow Virgin to bundle Spotify with their broadband packages. Virgin executives hope the ease of access will clamp down on music piracy.
"If you bundle it in with broadband, consumers are more inclined to buy it," Virgin's regulatory chief Matt Rogerson told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "In Sweden, [Spotify has] had a real impact in the reduction of piracy."
Alright, so about our headline: Obviously, the Virgin-Spotify deal will only apply to U.K. residents, so the other news about Spotify coming to the U.S. is more immediately relevant to American music fans. Spotify has signed deals with three out of the four major U.S. record labels, and according to The New York Times's sources, Time Warner, the fourth, will sign soon. Once that deal goes through, the cloud music service will compete with similar services by Google and Amazon.
With the Virgin announcement, we have to wonder how ambitious Spotify will be when they land in the States. Imagine if Spotify teamed up with Comcast, who owns NBC Universal, and starts pumping free music into American set-top boxes by bundling it with broadband internet services. Or even bigger, what if Spotify joined forces with Verizon. On top of their confirmed relationship with Facebook, the prospect of a partnership between Spotify and any broadband provider ups their potential to seize serious market share. Of course, they have some competition. Google or Amazon could do the same, and Apple's inevitable iCloud will make its mark. But did we mention that Mark Zuckerberg really likes Spotify?