By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) - Music streaming service Spotify is setting its sights on Latin America where the 17 countries it operates in could comprise up to 15 percent of its global business, the company's managing director of Latin America said.
The privately held Swedish streaming platform is focusing on emerging markets after raising $100 million in 2012 to support that growth. Spotify launched in Mexico little more than a year ago, said Spotify's Gustavo Diament, and the country is already among the top five of Spotify's 58 markets.
"It's close to becoming bigger than Germany," he told Reuters this week during eMerge Americas, a Miami Beach-based technology conference.
Spotify in January said it had 15 million paying subscribers and 60 million active users worldwide at the end of 2014. The company in April raised a reported $400 million giving it an $8.4 billion valuation.
The key to attracting paying subscribers in Latin America lies in the consumer's ability to pay for services such as Spotify and Pandora as part of their mobile phone contracts.
Prices vary for the Spotify subscription between 11,499 Colombian pesos ($4.81) to 16.90 Peruvian soles ($5.37), cheaper than the $9.99 a month premium for users to go ad-free in the United States.
Spotify said it has deals in place with telecoms providers in Latin America to include its service within phone contracts, side-stepping the need for consumers to even have to select it.
"This allows for mass consumption that couldn't happen if the user had to pay with a credit card, as happens in the United States," said Leila Cobo, executive director of Latin content and planning for Billboard.
Music streaming services have come under fire from some high-profile artists who say they are not reimbursed fairly and their music is devalued. Taylor Swift is one star who pulled her entire catalog from Spotify last year.
More recently in March, rapper Jay Z launched rival streaming service Tidal with 15 other high profile artists, promising to pay 75 percent of revenues as royalties.
"We've paid more than $2 billion to rights holders, but we paid that to record labels," Diament said. "We need to work with the artists and labels to determine how these funds are paid and distributed."
(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by David Gregorio)