Spotify gains more listeners and Metallica

Thu Dec 6, 2012 6:22pm EST
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By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Digital music service Spotify rolled out new features and said it increased the number of active users at a press event that featured a special musical performance by Frank Ocean.

Spotify now has 20 million active users worldwide, up 33 percent in less than six months. The company counts five million people among paying subscribers, a 25 percent increase during the same time period.

Spotify also revealed it has one million paid subscribers in the United States, that it added a Twitter like functionality that allows users to follow one another, and that the rock band Metallica's music was now available on the service.

The company made the announcements at a splashy New York event on Thursday that included a conversation between Spotify backer Sean Parker and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

Ulrich's appearance is notable since his band was one of the leading crusaders against Napster, the digital music sharing company co-founded by Parker more than a decade ago that was a flashpoint for digital rights and artist compensation.

"We have more in common than the whole thing that happened 12 years ago," said Ulrich about Parker.

Ulrich said the decision to join Spotify coincided with the fact the band now owns its entire catalogs of music.

Spotify, which strikes royalty deals with record labels, has paid more than $500 million to the music industry since its launch four years ago - an amount that has more than doubled in the past nine months. It pays roughly 70 percent of its revenue back to rights holders.   Continued...

From L - R: Drummer Lars Ulrich, lead vocalist James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo of the heavy metal band Metallica pose during a photocall in Mexico City July 28, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer