Spotify Runs Into European Licensing Quicksand

Spotify is now being forced to curb its offering a bit, thanks to licensing restrictions in Europe.

“Unfortunately we are going to be removing a number of songs from our catalog and adding country restrictions to some tracks, which may make them unplayable for you,” Spotify member Andres blogged on Thursday.

Spotify, a Swedish application that offers ad-supported access to on-demand streams, among other features, is currently only available across various European countries (legally, at least).  But anyone familiar with the European licensing mess will understand why Spotify is now having problems allowing cross-border playlist sharing.

Spotify also allows premium subscribers to access content without the annoyance of ads, though even paying customers will be affected.  “These restrictions are a legacy from when most music was sold on tapes and CDs and they have continued over into streaming music.  Our hope is that one day restrictions like this will disappear for good,” Andres explained.

But that could be wishful thinking.  The Spotify mission is to allow total music access, without forcing a second thought upon users.  That includes social playlist-sharing, an activity that is rarely confined to one European country.  Of course, licensing remains a time-consuming and expensive mess, though well-financed companies like Spotify theoretically have the funds to lubricate the system a bit