Spotify signs U.S. deal with Sony

Music-streaming service would need to sign more label deals before a U.S. launch, but Sony partnership is a significant step in that direction.

Peter Kafka

This doesn't get them into the States, but it gets them a lot closer: music service Spotify has finally signed with Sony for a U.S. distribution deal. Multiple sources tell me the deal, which has been very close since last fall, is now closed.

I'm told the terms call for a U.S. service that more or less mirrors the one Spotify offers in Europe: A certain number of hours per month of free streaming music, with the ability to pay for an ad-free version, or a more popular one that lets users listen on mobile devices like Apple's iPhone.

Sony declined to comment. I haven't heard back from Spotify yet.

The deal doesn't mean a U.S. launch is imminent for the service, which has been trying to make the leap from Europe for a couple of years, and which missed a self-imposed deadline to make it over in 2010. In order to make a credible offer to U.S. customers, it will need at least two of the three other big music labels to sign on.

And practically, at least one of those labels has to be Vivendi's Universal Music Group, the world's biggest music label. So Spotify will need to hammer out a deal with UMG and either Warner Music Group or EMI before we can start talking about a U.S. launch date.

The New York Post reported last week that Spotify was close to a Sony deal.

More shortly.