Spotify may have 10 million subscribers but it's still losing money

Streaming is the future, if Spotify can figure out how to get that user base past a few more milestones.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 26 Nov 2014

Spotify is, ahem, streaming past its rivals, having doubled its paying subscribers to 10 million in the last 18 months. That’s way ahead of French service Deezr, which said in November it had 5 million paying users, and Beats Music, which had reportedly had just 110,000 subscribers in March and is probably being swallowed by Apple for $3.2bn (£1.9bn).

The music player, valued at $4bn when it raised money in November, has 40 million active users in 56 countries, up from just 20 markets last year. Streaming in general is spreading like wildfire, with revenues up 50% to $1.1bn last year, according to global record industry association IFPI. If it keeps growing at that rate it will soon overtake downloads, which fell 2% to $3.9bn last year.

You’d think the future was pretty bright for Spotify, then, even though its most streamed artists are Eminem and Rihanna. However, the Stockholm-based company is still bleeding money, having lost an estimated $200m since it was founded in 2008, according to researchers PrivCo.

Daniel Ek, the company’s egg-head founder (check out this fantastically weird moving photo of him crying sparkles) made sure to sound suitably pleased at hitting the 10 million milestone though. ‘We will continue to focus on getting everyone in the world to listen to more music,’ the chief exec enthused in a statement.

Plenty of musicians aren’t so sure. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called Spotify ‘the last desperate fart of a dying corpse’ (how sad for Ek, who once said at an event MT attended that he was a Coldplay and Radiohead fan). Folk rocker Damon Krukowski said last year a song of his would need to played 47,680 times on Spotify to pay him the same as an albums sale.

Spotify emphasised it has paid out more than $1bn in royalties over its history, but it probably can’t afford to throw more than a few meagre pennies artists’ way until that subscriber base passes a few more milestones.

Most Spotified male artist ever  Eminem
Most Spotified female artist ever  Rihanna
2nd most Spotified male artist  David Guetta
2nd most Spotified female artist  Katy Perry
Most Spotified song ever  Wake Me Up by Avicii (+235 million streams)
Most followed artist  David Guetta (+5 million followers)
Most Spotified playlist in the last month  Top 100 Pop Tracks
Most Spotified song offline in the last month  Rather Be by Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne

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