Photographer: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for NPG Records via Getty Images

Apple, Spotify Face New Rival in Race for Exclusive Music

Updated on
  • WeTransfer, with 85 million users, introduces Web music player
  • Dutch DropBox competitor is using songs to fuel U.S. growth

Apple Inc., Spotify Ltd. and Jay-Z have some new competition in the race for exclusive songs and music videos: the Dutch file-sharing service WeTransfer.

WeTransfer, which serves 85 million users each month, will announce plans for a new music player at an event in Los Angeles on Wednesday, according to Maarten Kadiks, a marketing executive at the company. Prince, Big Grams and Disclosure have already released songs and videos on WeTransfer, and the company hopes to land more exclusives with the new feature.

While WeTransfer has no plans to make money from music, the company aims to compete with major streaming services, social networks and video sites like Vevo for potential hits. It’s also using music to differentiate itself from larger competitors, like Dropbox Inc., as it begins to expand in the U.S. Its pay service is most popular among people working in video who need to move large files. WeTransfer allows free transfers of files of up to two gigabytes.

“We’re using music to put us on the map,” Kadiks said. “Six years ago we started out in Europe, and that is where we see the biggest amount of users. The U.S. is taking over in terms of growth.”

WeTransfer raised $25 million in February from Highland Capital Partners Europe, which valued the company at more than $100 million, Kadiks said. WeTransfer generates half of its sales from advertising, and the other half from its subscription service.

The company has reached out to representatives for Justin Bieber, Pharrell and Madonna about using the service to promote and preview upcoming projects. Artists can advertise themselves to WeTransfer users via a rotating group of screen backgrounds that change every 45 seconds.

Artists are more likely to use WeTransfer to release mixes, rough cuts and music videos than entire albums, Kadiks said, comparing the service to SoundCloud, where anyone can post a track. The company will rely on investor and entertainment executive Troy Carter to help recruit talent. Carter, the chief executive officer of Atom Factory, manages Meghan Trainor and Kamasi Washington.

“The service can become one of the most popular, alternative digital distribution channels for music content,” Kadiks said. “Musicians we’re having conversations with understand the value of connecting with our audience of creative tastemakers.”

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to replace Danish with Dutch.)

(Updates with company comment in last paragraph.)
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