Spotify subscribers jump to 130M, but listening drops in hard-hit coronavirus areas


Angela Lang/CNET

Spotify hit 130 million subscribers at the end of March, up 31% from a year earlier, the streaming-music company said Wednesday. The report puts Spotify alongside fellow subscription streaming service Netflix as a rare thriving sector when most industries are struggling with the coronavirus pandemic’s shutdown of much of the world.  

In an odd paradox, Spotify is still adding listeners at a strong clip, but those listeners aren’t spending as much time on Spotify in countries hit hard by coronavirus, the company said. Not surprisingly, listening has dropped in cars, on wearables and on web platforms, but people are listening a lot more through TVs and game consoles lately.

“It’s clear from our data that morning routines have changed significantly. Every day now looks like the weekend,” Spotify said in its report on first-quarter earnings Wednesday, echoing a sentiments from Google’s YouTube about changes its viewers’ patterns. 

The latest membership growth appeared to keep Spotify above its competitor Apple Music, but Apple hasn’t updated the public on its membership since way back in June, when the service had 60 million subscribers. 

Spotify also said Wednesday that 286 million people total now use its service at least once a month, up 31% percent from a year earlier. Spotify, unlike Apple, has a free tier that lets anyone listen to music with advertising. Apple has never disclosed a monthly-active-user stat; almost all people who use Apple Music are subscribers. 

Amid a cultural shift to streaming as the most common way people listen to tunes, Both Spotify and Apple Music have emerged as the leaders in a race to dominate subscription music. Though Spotify remains the biggest streaming service by both listeners and subscribers, Apple Music has benefited from the popularity of the iPhone to recruit new members. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. 

Looking to the the end of June, Spotify predicted that it will have 133 million to 138 million paid subscribers and that its monthly active users will increase to between 289 million and 299 million. 

For the first quarter, Sweden-based Spotify swung to a 1 million euro ($231 million) profit from a 142 million euro loss a year earlier. On a per-share basis, the loss narrowed to 20 cents a share from 79 cents. Revenue rose 22% to €1.85 billion in the quarter.

Spotify shares were up 10% to about $154.35 in early premarket trading Wednesday.

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