Spotify hires Fox dealmaker to court distribution partners

The upstart streaming music service hires Jorge Espinel, 21st Century Fox's head of digital strategy, to shore up its efforts effort finding partners like telecoms to expand its user base.

Spotify house at SXSW 2013.
Spotify house at SXSW 2013. James Martin/CNET

Spotify has hired one of Rupert Murdoch's execs to spearhead its attempt to break away from the start-up pack and give bigger rivals like Pandora or iTunes a run for their money.

Jorge Espinel LinkedIn

Jorge Espinel, previously the head of 21st Century Fox and News Corp.'s digital strategy, is now in charge of global business development at Spotify. Spotify confirmed the hire to CNET, and Espinel listed the job on his LinkedIn profile Thursday.

For all its success elbowing to the front of a pack of streaming music start-ups, Spotify far lags the numbers put up by Pandora, Sirius XM or iTunes for users.

Spotify rapidly ramped up to more than 6 million paid subscribers and more than 24 million active users , but that pales to Pandora Internet radio's 71 million active listeners, for example.

To rise to the fore of music-streaming startups, Spotify sealed parternships with European mobile telecommunications companies like Vodafone, Orange, Telia and Telefónica, which bundled Spotify with their services and helped propel the Stockholm-based service to the kind of reach it has now. It enjoys very high adoption in areas like Sweden, its home turf.

But telecoms in the US haven't greeted Spotify with the same open arms. The company hasn't sealed any similar deals yet in the US, holding back its penetration in the world's biggest music market.

Espinel will be based in New York and run business development for Spotify globally. He reports to Jeff Levick, Spotify's head of sales, marketing and international growth.

The news was reported earlier by AllThingsD.

 

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