Spotify Gives Thanks for 2.5M Paying Subscribers in the U.S.

U.K.-based Spotify just hit 2.5M paying subscribers -- four months since its launch here and a nice teaser for its press conference next Wednesday in New York.

That's when the company says it will "unveil the latest major development from Spotify - and a new direction for the company." CEO and founder Daniel Ek will host the event, so it must be important as he didn't appear at the U.S. launch in July.

Pandora remains the streaming service to beat, with 24M active users according to its just-released Q3 results. The company said it was not seeing any impact from Spotify's launch, but its active-user growth is slowing, Business Insider reported.

The vague event announcement has many wondering what Spotify might unveil that's worthy of such hyperbole.

Peter Kafka at All Things D offered a comprehensive list while noting that none are earth-shattering.

"In Europe, for instance, Spotify offers an MP3 store, so users can buy songs directly from the service instead of heading to iTunes or Amazon (and now, Google)," Peter writes. "But the U.S. version of the service doesn’t have one. I also assume we’ll see an iPad app for the service at some point, but perhaps one that functions more like a remote control/console than a full-fledged client."

Samantha Murphy at Mashable also mentions a new music store then asks, "Does bringing this capability to the U.S. warrant its press conference?"

Spotify's biggest update came at Facebook's f8 event in September, when the company launched its super-tight integration with Facebook and began requiring all Spotify users to have a Facebook account. Shortly after that, Spotify made it easier to control music sharing on Facebook. It now also lets users see friends' playlists on its mobile apps.

Two weeks ago, Facebook announced that Spotify had added 4M users overall thanks to Facebook. Sean Parker, of Napster and Facebook fame, is a Spotify investor who has described Spotify as a "hyper-efficient system" and the answer to music piracy.

Beyond Pandora, Spotify is competing with cloud-based services. Last week, Google Music launched to let users upload up to 20K songs available for streaming from most devices. That same week, Apple launched iTunes Match, its cloud-based matching and "streaming" service, at $24.95 per year.