Swedish Spotify’s new video streaming plan

Sweden's Spotify, the world's leader in music streaming, has confirmed an expansion into video and original content, reaching beyond music as the company faces challenges to its dominance and strives to turn a profit.

Swedish Spotify's new video streaming plan
Spotify has launched an updated platform. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

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Spotify, by far the largest company in the booming streaming industry, said on Wednesday it wanted to turn into a broader, and more personalized, platform to bring in subscribers throughout the day.

The upgraded Spotify platform will for the first time support videos and offer news and other non-music content provided by major media companies.

Daniel Ek, the founder and chief executive of the eight-year-old Swedish company, said that Spotify was recognizing the all-encompassing power of smartphones in modern life.

Spotify's core mission remains music, but it wants to give users more incentives to turn to Spotify to read the news or watch videos, too, Ek said.

“There is an incredible opportunity to soundtrack your entire day – and your entire life – in all of its complexity,” the 32-year-old Swedish entrepreneur told a launch event at a converted New York warehouse off the Hudson River.

Ek said that Spotify had partnered with a wide range of media companies including major US networks, the BBC, Vice and comedy network Adult Swim.

While providing podcasts and other production from media partners, Spotify said it also planned original content.

In one of the more inventive features, Spotify unveiled a new function for runners that will detect motion through the smartphone and select music based on the pace.

“We think that music is moving beyond just linear, one-way playback,” said Spotify's chief product officer, Gustav Söderström.

“We're going to take this approach to many more parts of your life very soon,” he said.

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Ek said the updated platform would be available immediately in Sweden, Britain, Germany and the United States, and would be rolled out in the coming weeks to the 54 other countries and territories where Spotify is present.

But for all its rapid growth, Spotify has yet to turn its major investments into profit. In filings this month, the company said that its net loss tripled to 162.3 million euros ($182 million) in 2014.

Spotify has also been controversial among some artists, most famously Taylor Swift, who say hat streaming insufficiently compensates creators. Ek staunchly defended Spotify's role, saying that users discovered new artists two billion times every month.

As of late 2014, Spotify reported 60 million users. But three-quarters of them opted for a free tier of service, which is particularly controversial in the music industry.

And the company is bracing for growing competition. Rap mogul Jay Z recently launched a redesigned Tidal, a streaming platform that offers higher-end audio files as well as video and exclusive content.

Apple – long the giant of digital music through iTunes – is expected to unveil an updated streaming service soon. Other competitors include Rdio, Deezer, Rhapsody and Google Play.

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