Parker: Apple tried to keep Spotify out of the U.S.

Walt Mossberg Daniel Ek Sean Parker Spotify D10
Walt Mossberg Daniel Ek Sean Parker Spotify D10

(L to R) Walt Mossberg, Daniel Ek, Sean Parker

It took Spotify two and a half years to enter the U.S. market amid complicated licensing discussions with record labels, and Apple played a role in trying to keep the company out of the country, Spotify director Sean Parker said Wednesday.

“There were some indications that that happened,” Parker said, rescuing Spotify CEO Daniel Ek from having to answer a question about Apple’s role in Spotify’s long march to the U.S. market at the D: All Things Digital conference. “You hear things, people send you e-mails… there is definitely a sense in which Apple was threatened by what we were doing.”

This isn’t an entirely new notion: my former colleague Greg Sandoval at CNET reported in 2010 that Apple was talking smack about Spotify’s business model in discussions with record companies, implying that it could hurt sales of downloaded music. But Parker’s acknowledgment is still quite interesting when considering whether or not Apple ever plans to introduce a subscription service for music, something the company has long resisted but has long been rumored to be considering.

Back in 2011, when Spotify launched in the U.S., Ek told Om that “people tend to overdramatize this tension with Apple.”

Regardless of Apple’s role in Spotify’s negotiations with record labels, Parker said that Spotify has broken through where others have failed because of a focus on the product. “You have to lead with the product, and that informs your licensing,” he said, whereas other services cut the licensing deals first and then got around to building a product.

Image credit Asa Mathat | All Things Digital

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