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Spotify press event lacks sizzle or substance

All the music service offers us is a Coca-Cola ad deal and not a particularly exciting one at that.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, third from the left, was doing his best to sell his company's ad deal with Coca-Cola as something to get excited about.
Sarah Tew/CNET

NEW YORK--Someone needs to remind Spotify that you need news at a news conference.

Spotify, one of the top music subscription services, announced today that Coca-Cola is launching an app on its music platform. Three Coca-Cola executives and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tried to convince a gathering of about 30 members of the media that the partnership can offer Spotify users untold number of benefits and help extend the streaming-music service's brand.

By being everywhere that Coca-Cola is, which is just about everywhere, the agreement will spread Spotify's brand to new markets. What they didn't tell us is why music listeners would give a damn about what Coca-Cola has to say about music. Though the execs on stage tried to deny it, this is an ad deal and not a particularly inventive one at that.

This is how bad it was: the first question asked following the announcement was "When are you going to release the iPad app?"

Awkward silence.

Nobody wanted to hear about a partnership with Coca-Cola. If Spotify execs weren't embarrassed, they should have been.

Spotify's technology is innovative and its abilities to anticipate what music fans want is superb. The company is building an audience by delivering a good experience. When they stick to nuts and bolts of operating a music business, they're fine.

But what we got today is the old Spotify, the one that hypes and ballyhoos; the Spotify that promised numerous times for two years that its U.S. launch was right around the corner.

Spotify is generating a lot of headlines lately; breathless stories about a possible IPO, the company's goal of topping $1 billion in revenue, and signing an agreement to distribute the entire catalog of rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sure, the company wants to generate buzz, but leaders today overreached.

They played the media and users for suckers. By trying to package a run-of-the-mill ad deal as anything more insults both groups.

From the press release: "Under the terms of the agreement, Spotify will be the key underlying technology for Coca-Cola Music globally, supporting the brand's mission to provide consumers universal access to music."

During the Q&A, I asked if Coca-Cola is getting into the music distribution business. One of the soft drink makers then launched a barrage of jargon and executive-speak at me and I had no idea what he was talking about.

Spotify is a mover and a shaker with a nasty habit of over promising. The company is young and will hopefully out grow it before its credibility is shot to pieces.