Spotify Taps Hong Kong Music Fans to Chase Pandora Outside U.S.

Spotify Ltd., the London-based online music provider, begins services in Asia today in a race against Pandora Media Inc. to expand globally.

Users in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia can access Spotify’s music service funded by advertisements for free using a desktop, General Manager Jonathan Forster said. They can also opt for a paid, ad-free premium service that works across all platforms including mobile devices, he said in a phone interview from Hong Kong.

Spotify is expanding access on mobile gadgets as more users listen to music from handsets and tablets, Forster said. The company plans to use Hong Kong as a stepping stone to enter mainland China, a nation with more Internet users than any country’s population except India.

“We want to be everywhere where there’s a speaker,” Forster said. “It’s really important for us to expand our business into as many countries as possible.”

Forster didn’t specify when the company plans to start operating in mainland China.

Including the Asian markets, Spotify is available in 23 countries and regions. It has more than 6 million paying subscribers and 24 million active users, including in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, according to its website.

Oakland, California-based Pandora, the leader in Internet radio, only offers its service in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. It has 200 million registered users, with 67 million monthly active listeners, according to company figures.

Hong Kong users can pay HK$48 ($6) a month to access the premium service, Forster said. Non-paying listeners of Spotify have limited control over song selection and hear advertising.

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