Is Spotify gearing up to take on Netflix? Not soon

Video on the on-demand music service is a possibility, but Spotify CEO Daniel Ek says not for a long time.

Paul Sloan Former Editor
Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.
Paul Sloan
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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Greg Sandoval/CNET

Spotify, the largest on-demand music service with 24 million active listeners, is in the early stages of exploring a possible video service, according a person close to the company. But CEO Daniel Ek says building a Netlix competitor is not something the company is gearing up to do anytime soon.

"I won't rule it out because we're a company that looks at what we're doing incredibly long term," Ek said in a recent interview with CNET. "But right now, we're all focused on music."

The idea of a Spotify video service came up in a report today on Business Insider. The story even suggested that Spotify would invest in creating original content, the way Netflix did with its "House of Cards" original series.

It's a far stretch that Spotify would do anything like this for some time, if ever. The company is laser focused on music, and has such traction that it's beginning to win big support from the major music labels.

Spotify, which has a tough business model because the music labels and publishers take the bulk of any revenue it brings in, is currently renegotiating its deals with the labels. While the labels don't give up much easily, they do want Spotify to succeed: The company expects to pay rights holders $500 million this year alone, and Spotify has become the labels' second-biggest digital partner behind Apple.

Even the idea of creating a Spotify music video service is one that Ek said doesn't make a ton of sense -- namely, because, for now, YouTube and Vevo do such a good job at this.

"I don't know what the user experience would be where we would do that considerably better than anyone else," Ek said. "If we did think we could make it better than YouTube or Vevo, then maybe. But it would seem easier to partner with them."