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The notion, that “it’s impossible to compete with free”, sat well with lawmakers and governments, who looked at offerings coming out of The Pirate Bay and thousands of other similar sites and widely agreed that no-one will pay for something if they can get it for nothing.The massive rise of iTunes well and truly smashed that theory (even if many were slow to admit it) but another project in development not only had plans to compete with free by offering a decent basic service for no cost, but also had eyes on wooing customers into happily parting with their cash to obtain a superior product.Five years after its launch in its Swedish homeland, Spotify is achieving its aims. Against all the apparent impossibilities of doing business with freeloading cheapskates, the streaming music service is coming on in leaps and bounds and has recently secured a fresh $250m in funding.Yesterday, in a bid to build stronger bridges with partners, Spotify launched SpotifyArtists, a new information portal designed to enable artists and their support services to better understand and utilize the streaming platform. Interestingly, and hidden away underneath information on the mechanics of the site, comes the clearest statement yet that right from the beginning Spotify’s target market was one inhabited by music pirates.“Spotify was designed from the ground up to combat piracy,” the company confirms.“Founded in Sweden, the home of The Pirate Bay, we believed that if we could build a service which was better than piracy, then we could convince people to stop illegal file-sharing, and start consuming music legally again.”Right from the beginning Spotify founder Daniel Ek held a solid belief that if his service offered a better experience and superior convenience than that being offered by The Pirate Bay, people would jump on board.And they have. Earlier this year the service confirmed it had amassed a total of 24 million users worldwide, 18 million on their ad-supported service and 6 million paying a subscription.