Summary:

Spotify may be close to finally, at long last, launching its service in the U.S. But in the meantime it is continuing to build out its reach…

Spotify on Virgin Media

Spotify may be close to finally, at long last, launching its service in the U.S. But in the meantime it is continuing to build out its reach in markets where it already exists. Today it announced a deal with Virgin Media: an exclusive tie-up that will see the broadband, mobile and cable operator offering the music streaming service across multiple platforms. A tie-up between the two companies had been rumored for a while already, and it’s been more than two years since Virgin first announced plans for a streamed music service.

The service will give users the option of listening to Spotify’s 13 million tracks online, via mobile or through their digital TV set-top boxes, via Virgin’s TiVO service. For now, Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) will have a lock-down on the cross-platform service, which is planned to have a full launch “in the coming months,” according to the emailed release.

Virgin, which currently has some four million customers taking its fiber optic broadband services but is in a distant fifth place as a mobile provider, is hoping that the Spotify service will help drive more triple-play bundled subscriptions.

Leading up to the commercial launch, Virgin will be rolling out a number of deals on the music company’s paid-for products like Spotify Unlimited (the ad-free service, online only) and Spotify Premium (the service that gives users access to their Spotify libraries on mobile as well). Virgin also promises “exclusive features and content”, although what these will be was not specified.

Prices for the launch have not yet been made public, either. Current prices for Spotify services are £4.99 ($8) per month for the Unlimited service and £9.99 for the Premium service ($16).

While beefing up its content portfolio is a good way for Virgin to attract more subscribers to its services, it is also a key move for Spotify to continue to build out its user base beyond early adopters and music enthusiasts, to the more mainstream public.

The TV-based access is a particularly significant move. It puts Spotify in more direct competition with the likes of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and potentially other operators like Orange, which has launched cross-platform music services in other markets like France, but not the UK.

For its part, Virgin Media already offers a music service of sorts on mobile, a service called PushLife, operated in partnership with the Canadian outfit of the same name and announced last December. PushLife got bought by Google in April — possibly for Google’s own plans for mobile music services.

It’s not clear what will happen with that service with this Spotify deal in place — whether the two mobile services will coexist or whether the older service will quietly be closed down. Virgin Media has not been forthcoming about how well it has done in the last six months. We have contacted Virgin to ask and will update the post as we learn more.

A Virgin Media spokesperson tells us that PushLife will continue alongside the company’s new Spotify service. No comment on how many subscribers it has, or any other usage information.

Virgin Media first announced plans for an unlimited music download service way back in early 2009. At the time, Universal stepped up as a partner for the service but other labels stayed away.

Virgin says it is continuing to talk with more entertainment and content providers to add more services and products to its portfolio.

By Ingrid Lunden

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