Spotify continues to grow its user base: The music streaming now has 100 million monthly active users. The new milestone was first reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday, and subsequently confirmed by the company.
Spotify surpassed 30 million paying subscribers earlier this year. But while Spotify continues to grow its user base, it also faces increased competition from Apple Music, which has been able to acquire 15 million paying users since its launch a year ago.
The big difference between the two services is that Spotify continues to offer a free tier, whereas Apple converts users with a lengthy free trial. Record labels have long pushed for curtailing ad-supported music streaming, and want Spotify and others to instead transition towards a paid-only model. Spotify executives on the other hand have argued that the company’s free tier serves as a funnel for the paid service.
At the same time, it’s clear that some users may never pay. That’s why Spotify now wants to intensify its efforts to monetize ad-supported listening. The company has been staffing up its ad business, and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is scheduled to speak at the Cannes Lion advertising festival for the first time this week, according to the Journal.
Music streaming service Spotify announced another major milestone Thursday, revealing on Twitter that it now has 50 million paying subscribers. This means that Spotify gained 20 million subscribers in a single year, and has is more than twice the audience size of Apple Music.
The news comes just one day after Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated during the company’s annual shareholder meeting that Apple Music service has more than 20 million paying customers. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced in March of 2016 that the service had hit 30 million subscribers.
Spotify’s continued momentum could help the company win some goodwill with the major music labels, which have been pushing the service to restrict free and ad-supported listening. However, it doesn’t solve some of Spotify’s fundamental business issues. The company is paying dearly for its music licenses as well as customer acquisition, and has yet to turn a profit.
And the clock is ticking for Spotify’s eventual IPO: The music service raised $1 billion in debt financing a year ago under conditions that significantly raise the cost of the loan the longer it waits to go public. Perhaps, reaching the 50 million milestone could help Spotify to make that case for a public offering even in light of its losses.
Goldman Sachs Sells Off $75 Million in Spotify Shares (Report)
A Goldman Sachs hedge fund has sold more than $75 million in Spotify shares, while another part of the company has been helping the streaming service to prepare for its public listing, according to a report in Sky News.
The shares, sold by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, represent “less than half” of its stake in the Swedish-based company, the report says, citing a source person close to the transactions. Reps for Spotify and Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
The report notes that “The trades are likely to attract attention because of Goldman’s role in helping Spotify finance itself as a private company in recent years, and in preparing it to go public with a valuation of well over $10 billion.” Another source defended Goldman’s move, saying that it had “practical reasons to sell a small stake.”
Several sources place Spotify’s value at $13 billion.
Facing an uncertain outlook on a traditional IPO, last month reports emerged that Spotify is considering a direct listing, whereby the company would list its existing equity instead of selling new shares.
The service has been gradually removing roadblocks to such a listing, signing long-term licensing deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music, leaving Warner as the only major without a renewed deal (the previous deal expired last year, but continues under its terms until a new one is struck). The company is expected to reach a deal with Warner in the coming weeks.
The company announced late last month that it had passed 60 million subscribers — up 10 million from March — and a total of 140 million total users in June.
However, its revenue and operating loss grew significantly in 2016, according to the company’s annual financial statement released in June. Spotify showed an operating loss of some 349 million Euros ($389 million) compared with a 236 million Euro loss the previous year. Its gross profit was just $502 million. “This is explained by substantial investments that have been made during the year, mostly in product development, international expansion and a general increase in personnel,” directors Daniel Ek and Par Jorgen Parson wrote in the filing. The company also said it will pay record labels at least $2 billion in royalties over the next two years.
The company has also been dogged by lawsuits from publishers claiming underpayment of royalties, as well as accusations that it is playing a role in the creation and promotion of “fake artists,” who are paid a flat fee and no royalties, which some claim saves the company millions of dollars. Spotify has denied any participation in this practice.
Spotify Teams With Hulu On Package Deal For College Students
Spotify and Hulu are teaming up to see if college students — and, later, others — might like them better together, for a bargain price.
The music and video streaming services say this morning that, beginning today, U.S. college undergrads can pay $4.99 a month for what they call: “Spotify Premium for Students, now with Hulu.”
This is “the first step the companies are taking to bundle their services together, with offerings targeted at the broader market to follow,” the companies say.
The price matches Spotify’s existing music without ads offering for undergrads at Title IV accredited colleges or universities. The new plan adds Hulu’s Limited Commercials video-on-demand service, which typically costs $7.99 a month.
Users will continue to access the services through their respective apps. Current Spotify Premium for Student subs can switch to the new offer with Hulu.
This is the first time that Spotify has joined forces with a TV and movie service.
Hulu’s “a like-minded company which is as focused as we are on delivering the very best in high quality streaming content,” says Spotify Chief Premium Business Officer Alex Norstrom.
Hulu Head of Distribution and Partnerships Tim Connolly calls Spotify “an iconic brand in music streaming and a proven leader in reaching and engaging young consumers.”
The alliance comes as Spotify — which faces intensifying competition from Pandora, Google Music, Apple and others — weighs a plan to offer shares directly on the New York Stock Exchange, bypassing the SEC’s IPO process.
Spotify hopes to trade its existing, privately held, equity by early next year, Bloomberg reports. It wants a direct listing, in part, to avoid underwriting fees and requirements to make detailed public disclosures — which it considers unnecessary since it would not raise additional cash or solicit stockholders.
Still, the SEC has called execs in to question them about the plan, the news service says.
Spotify says it has more than 140 million active users globally, including at least 60 million paying subscribers across 61 markets.
Hulu is co-owned by Comcast, Disney, Fox, and Time Warner.