Spotify US Launch Now Believed to Be Imminent

According to reports surfacing over the weekend, online music service Spotify may be as close as it’s ever been to launching in the US and doing head-to-head battle with the likes of Apple’s iTunes.

Spotify is currently available in the U.K., Finland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Spain.

Despite rumors of a US launch that have lingered for months, the reason for newfound hope in the prospective North American expansion of the service is a new distribution agreement with Universal Music Group – a deal Spotify is reportedly close to reaching if it hasn’t already.

The deal, which one of these people said was signed on Thursday, comes in addition to similar pacts with EMI Group Ltd. and Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment. The remaining major-label group, Warner Music Group Corp., was in advanced discussions on Friday with Spotify.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Spotify executives are of the mindset that an early July launch may still be possible in the US.

Two months ago, just as the company was believed to be engaging in its most aggressive talks to seal the deals necessary to bring Spotify to the US, “more stringent limits were places on the amount of free music listeners could hear before upgrading to the paid option.”

Spotify’s premium subscription service runs about $16 per month and enables users to play an unlimited amount of uninterrupted music (that is, music that’s free of advertisements) on both mobile phones and computers.