Spotify is planning a direct listing of its shares - not an IPO

Spotify's new deal with Universal Music Group, could bolster the streaming service's revenue and better position the company to compete against Apple music. The streaming music company, which has been valued by investors at more than US$8 billion, has by far the largest service of its kind, with 50 million paying subscribers and at least another 50 million who listen to music on Spotify's free tier, which has advertising. But he became more willing to compromise - sources have hinted that Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez played a key role - and the deal couldn't wait much longer.

In 2015, its most recently disclosed period, Spotify had US$2.2 billion in revenue, but lost US$194 million. This would benefit Spotify's path to profitability and an IPO.

Last year Bloomberg reported Spotify meant to go public in the second half of 2017.

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A normal IPO involves a company issuing shares of stock. This release flexibility will allow for the service to actually encourage people to pay for the service rather than just continue using the free version. And as of now, the service has only reached this "windowing" deal with Universal Music Group and not Sony, Warner or EMI. "This may be the beginning of something that's going to be an industry standard", says Russ Crupnick, managing partner of the consultancy MusicWatch. Is there then going to be tension between the label and the artist?

Only Spotify's paid subscribers will have full access to albums during this time, though album singles will still be available for all listeners. "The deal incentivizes them to increase the number of subscribers instead of exclusively growing the free tier", says a label source. Whether Spotify or music labels can make sustainable profits off streaming is another question, but it's clearer than ever that this is the bed that's been made for them.

  • Delia Davidson