The most well-known audio streaming subscription service in the world is Spotify, a former Swedish business created with the goal of combating music piracy.

When it was first introduced in 2008, the platform was created as a way for users to stream their favorite songs while also paying artists for their contributions. At the time, file-sharing services like LimeWire and Napster were a major problem because they were illegally using other people’s music, which had a negative impact on music sales.

Currently, users can stream more than 80 million tracks on Spotify. The business highlighted its 456 million active users and 195 million paid customers across 183 regions in its most recent earnings report. By being included on the CNBC Disruptor 50 list in 2013, as well as in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, the platform revolutionized the audio streaming industry and laid the groundwork for later audio streaming services.

Major digital rivals rapidly saw Spotify’s success and later launched their own streaming music services including Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Amazon Music. However, despite competition and variable stock market performance, Spotify has maintained its position as the leading audio streaming service and has maintained its monthly pricing.

Since its 2011 U.S. inception, its $9.99 monthly premium plan has not altered and is still the lowest price offered by any rival. The monthly cost of Apple has been increased by $1 to $10.99. (Amazon Prime members pay $7.99 for unlimited Music instead of $8.99 for non-Prime users.) Players in the streaming music market are still adjusting their prices. The family plan for YouTube Music costs $14.99 a month; this week, Amazon increased its family plan from $14.99 to $15.99, making it competitive with Spotify.

In a conference call following Spotify’s most recent quarterly report, Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO, hinted at higher prices in the U.S. in the coming year, saying that raising subscription prices “is one of the things we would like to do and it’s something we will [consider] with our label partners.”

Ek stated to CNBC in October that “We’ve actually done more than 46 price increases in markets all around the world.” And several of those markets have experienced far higher inflation and more severe economic problems than the United States is currently dealing with, yet our subs numbers have held up much better than anticipated. We believe we can set prices.

When it comes to subscribers, the rivalry is advancing. This week, it was revealed that YouTube Music has increased from 50 million to 80 million subscribers in a single year. Apple reported an early surge in paid subscriber numbers for Apple Music back in 2019, at 60 million, but has since concentrated on the numbers for its overall Services business, growing to reach 860 million paid subscriptions. This includes Apple TV+, Apple Music, cloud services, and other services.

With the debut of its podcast platform in the US in 2015, Spotify began to move beyond music to establish itself as the next great name in the audio industry. The network now offers more than 4.7 million podcasts, and it has added more video features to keep people interested.

“We’re constantly trying to move forward with better product offerings, with better programming, with better curation,” Ek told CNBC in 2015. “It’s really about moving faster than the rest, and I really feel we’re doing a pretty good job at it.”

In an effort to directly compete with other audiobook services like Audible from Amazon, the firm most recently announced in September the acquisition of more than 300,000 audiobooks on its platform that are accessible for purchase.

“We see the opportunity to continue to imagine and explore new verticals across our platform – within audio, but also beyond,” Ek said at the company’s Investor Day in June. “And for each vertical, we will develop a unique set of software, services and products and business models that’s going to be tailored for that specific ecosystem.”

In an unusual direct listing, Spotify went public in April 2018, becoming one of the biggest internet companies to do so at the time. The company already had widespread brand awareness and didn’t require money raising, thus the listing was distinctive. The initial public offering (IPO) was launched successfully, trading above its reference price on the first day and within a relatively narrow range.

In its initial filing in February 2018, the business stated, “We set out to redesign the music industry and to provide a better way for both artists and consumers to profit from the digital change of the music industry.” “Spotify was built on the principle that music is for everyone and that streaming provides a more complete and seamless access model that benefits both artists and music consumers,” says the company.

Musicians have not always held this opinion; during the early years of Spotify’s ascent, several of them spoke out against the royalties that were being paid. In 2014, Taylor Swift took her repertoire off of Spotify and even went so far as to publish an opinion piece bemoaning the decline of music due to technology in the Wall Street Journal. Thom Yorke of Radiohead was a vocal opponent of streaming, once calling Spotify “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.”

These criticisms have decreased but not Spotify’s detractors as the music industry has shifted to a streaming-heavy one. When the platform came under fire for one of its most well-known podcasts, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” distributing false material about Covid-19, its stock fell by $2 billion in January. In opposition, musicians like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who have long criticized streaming services, removed their songs from Spotify. The firm removed several of Rogan’s inflammatory podcast episodes, but Ek insisted on keeping the host.

The primary concern for big business is still profitability. Spotify revealed larger-than-expected losses in the third quarter, and its stock hit fresh lows.

Spotify has maintained its top spot throughout the entire process and has a sizable advantage over rivals. What draws consumers to Spotify and keeps them coming back? The company attributes the service’s uniqueness to each customer to its personalisation algorithms.

Every user has their own Daily Mix and Discover Weekly playlists, which are customized for them and include both music they already love and brand-new songs the site believes they might like based on listening history. Every year, the firm also makes available to all users Spotify Wrapped, which enables customers to highlight their favorite artists, songs, albums, and genres of the year and post their findings on social media.

Ek predicted that within the next ten years, the company’s yearly revenue will increase to $100 billion from its current run rate of around $12 billion. The most recent quarterly gross margin was 24.7%; it hopes to reach a 40% gross margin.

In the end, Ek wants a “much more active and open platform” with one billion users.

At the company’s Investor Day, Ek referred to the platform as “a platform that will entertain, inspire, and educate more than one billion users around the world.” And as the largest platform for creators in the world, we’ll give 50 million artists and creators the tools they need to expand and run their own companies, earn money from their work, and effectively market it.


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