*Sean Parker hopes Spotify launches in U.S. this summer
*Streaming sites like Spotify can boost music sales
By Leila Abboud
PARIS, May 25 Internet entrepreneur Sean Parker
said the U.S. debut of European music streaming site Spotify was
very close and he hoped it would happen some time this summer.
Parker, best known for co-founding the file-sharing service
Napster that dealt a major blow to the traditional music
industry's business model, casts Spotify as a way to get people
to pay for music again.
The benefit to the industry would come via monthly
subscriptions for premium access to streaming websites or from
buying CDs or downloads of the music they discover and assemble
on sites like Spotify.
"I wouldn't say Spotify is about atoning for Napster," he
told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the e-G8
Internet forum in Paris on Wednesday. "It's more about finishing
what I started."
Parker is on the board of Spotify and owns an undisclosed
stake in the company.
Companies like Spotify, and its cousins Pandora and Rhapsody
in the United States and Deezer in France, sign licensing deals
with music labels for the rights to allow users to listen to
songs for free without downloading them on their computers or
They then charge monthly fees for premium access where users
can take their music with them on their mobiles and iPods and do
not have to listen to advertising between songs.
To date, Spotify has roughly 1 million paying users in
Britain, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Spain, France and the
Netherlands and more than 10 million on the free service.
Founder Daniel Ek has been saying for more than a year that
a U.S. expansion was on the cards, but problems signing
licensing deals with labels have slowed the launch.
"It's very close," said Parker. "I'm more optimistic than at
any other point."
Pressure is mounting as giants like Apple (AAPL.O) are close
to launching an online music storage and streaming service after
reaching deals with major labels. [ID:nN20113809]
Parker hinted that the company was close to resolving issues
it had with music labels and was seeking to sign licences that
would cover entire regions rather than individual countries.
"We are not talking about standard commercial deals," he
Separately, Parker, who was also an early adviser and is a
current shareholder in Facebook, said he had no idea when the
social network would seek to go public in the United States.
He said the decision lay with Facebook founder Mark
Zuckerberg. "Mark will decide when he thinks it makes sense, but
there is no pressure to do so," Parker said.
A flourishing secondary market has grown up in recent years
where investors seeking to surf on the rise of private Internet
start-ups have pumped money into companies like Facebook and
social gaming site Zynga.
That has sent valuations soaring - some put Facebook's at
anywhere between $50 and $100 billion - and is also allowing the
founders of start-ups to stay private longer while still growing
"There is so much interest on the secondary market that
Facebook does not have a problem of liquidity," he said.
Some analysts predict a 2012 flotation for Facebook amid
intense investor interest in Internet initial public offerings.
Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters
in an interview last week that an IPO was "inevitable."
[ID:nN1935199] [ID:nN27185713] [ID:nN1939946]
Parker added: "If Facebook is worth $80 or $100 or $120
billion, it's almost academic at this point. This is really
quickly growing into one of the biggest companies ever."
(Additional reporting by Matt Cowan; Editing by David
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