Spotify Ltd. is trying to break into Asian markets as it races against Pandora Media Inc. (P) to expand globally.
The London-based online music provider is applying for licensing permits in Asian countries, the company’s regional director, Sunita Kaur, said in a telephone interview from Singapore today. She declined to identify which countries.
Spotify, which began operating in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in April, has expanded faster globally than Pandora. The company has a presence in Hong Kong that it hopes to use as a stepping stone to China, a nation with more Internet users than any country’s population except India.
“The number one priority honestly is the market developments, the new market launches,” said Kaur, who joined Spotify in June. “The market roll out is led by our licensing, so we tend to launch in markets where we see we have a good enough library to go into.”
The music provider allows users to access its service funded by advertisements for free using a desktop. Listeners can opt for a paid service without advertising that works across all platforms, including mobile devices.
More than 20 percent of its subscribers choose the paid option, according to Spotify’s website.
Oakland, California-based Pandora, the leader in Internet radio by registered users, offers its service in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. It had 200 million registered users in the first quarter, with 70 million active listeners in April Chief Executive Officer Joe Kennedy said in a May 23 earnings call.
Pandora has a limited international presence mainly because the company has an abundant supply of advertisements from its key market in the U.S., said John Tinker, a New York-based analyst at Maxim Group by e-mail.
Hong Kong users can pay HK$48 ($6) a month to access the premium service of Spotify. Non-paying listeners of Spotify have limited control over song selection and hear advertising.
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