There are still thousands of record industry dinosaurs still sitting in their offices and scratching their heads, wondering where it all went wrong. Not 10 years ago, Capital Records needed a tower to support the busy hive of label managers and A&Rs on their books. After the launch of Napster in 1998, the world went digital and record companies have never quite found their way home.

But with the launch of digital streaming service Spotify in Australia this week, the music industry may have finally found the sustainable e-business model it was looking for. Created by Swedish web developers Ek and Martin Lorentzon in 2008, Spotify allows subscribers to legally stream music on their computers and smart phones. And with a catalogue spanning more than 16 million songs, Spotify beckons as one of the music industry’s answers to piracy.

It might be described as the music industry’s version of the video store, where consumers don’t own the songs but stream them on a listen-by-listen basis. Free subscriptions are funded by advertisers, who purchase intermittent audio space between songs on users’ playlists. For the music purists, there is an ad-free subscription, at a premium. The service also offers social networking, where you can follow other users and listen to their playlists.

As the fastest growing new music service in the world, Spotify offers hope to the major record labels and APRA (Australian Performing Right Association), who have signed onto the service with glee.