Daniel Ek and his partner Martin Lorentzon first launched the music-sharing site Spotify in Sweden with one goal in mind: find a social alternative to music piracy. They obtained $12 million in venture capital from two Stockholm-based companies, and secured catalogs of Universal, EMI Music, Sony, Warner, and the non-profit organization, Merlin, which represents independent record labels. Users register either for free accounts with advertising, or opt for paid subscriptions without ads, and with higher bit rate streaming and offline access to what Spotify claims is 15 million songs and growing. Now it has over 10 million users and 2 million paying subscribers across the world. According to a report by the Swedish Music Industry, there has been a 25 percent drop in music piracy in the country since the Spotify went live in 2009. Spotify is the second largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe (after iTunes). It arrived in the U.S. in July, and is rapidly gaining users and buzz.
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