Newspapers and streaming music: heavenly harmony or digital discord?

Man and woman couple reading newspaper and listening to music on headphones whilst relaxing on sofa

Digital content provider Aspiro will try growing its unlimited-music service through Nordic newspapers and a European expansion, after losses grew despite a recent nine-figure fundraising.

The Oslo-based vendor says its music service WiMP will be offered through Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet and Danish daily Politiken.

Aftonbladet publisher Schibsted took 73.4 percent ownership of Aspiro this year for 340 million Swedish krona ($50.8 million) in a bid to inject paid streaming content in to its news business.

But Aspiro has since issued SEK 100 million ($14.9 million) in new shares — three quarters of which were snapped up by a company controlled by Ferd Capital and Norwegian entertainment retailer Platekompaniet — to fuel expansion.

This shows that, whilst a streaming content provider is of strategic importance to a news publisher, the latest tranche of growth funding is coming from other places than news publishing.

Now Aspiro is trying to break in to Poland, hiring Universal Music Polska’s general manager and an editor from national newspaper Agora to kickstart efforts there.

Aspiro’s main product, WiMP, offers tunes both direct to subscribers and is delivered through telco carriage deals that Aspiro seeks, the latest of which was Ziggo in the Netherlands for a service branded Ziggo Muziek.

On Tuesday, the firm’s Q3 net loss grew from last year’s SEK 5.3 million to SEK 29 million ($4.3 million) despite 10 percent better sales of SEK 69.5 million ($10.3 million).

Much of the detriment came from Aspiro’s non-music operations. It wrote off SEK 8.3 million from the value of its mobile search business, while sales in its online video unit lost almost a quarter.

But music sales grew 45 percent to SEK 50.8 million. WiMP has 350,000 paying users in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Holland. More country launches are planned.

The company has undergone several leadership changes this year.

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