The world’s most used streaming service for music, Spotify, has filed the paperwork required to list the company on the New York Stock Exchange. According to the filing submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, the company is set for its NYSE debut in late March or early April, and will trade under the name SPOT.
The fees required for a company to go public is $300 million, but Spotify won’t have to spend that amount, as it’s only listing shares on the NYSE, and not using an intermediary, such as a bank, for doing so.
In 2006, Daniel Ek, now CEO, launched the company in Stockholm along with Martin Lorentzon, who is now its director. The company was a great success and attracted a large consumer base, despite not being the first one to offer music streaming services, a distinction held by Rhapsody which was launched back in 2001. Spotify is now used in 61 countries and has twice the amount of user base as its nearest competitor, Apple Music. That user base is comprised of 159 million monthly active users and 71 million premium subscribers.
The company generates 90 percent of its revenue from the 71 million subscribers who pay for their services. Despite that, the company has been unable to turn profits even after making $4.98 billion last year, as it recorded $1.5 billion in losses. This follows the trend of most tech companies who focus on prioritizing an increase in user base over generating money.
Most of the money generated by Spotify, goes into paying the musicians whose music the company streams to its customers. This is evident by the $3.95 billion being used to pay the artists and music companies, of the nearly $5 billion they made last year. However, the company is still credited with turning around the fortunes of the music industry, despite not recording any profits. The returns Spotify provided was a much needed lifeline for the music industry, as it recorded 40% loss in its revenue from 1999 to 2014. The fortunes took a turn, however, when the industry recorded $1 billion in revenues from streaming music in 2016.
Spotify has complained of the lack of control it has for the company’s questionable financial health. Around 87 percent of the music listened to by users last year, is controlled by four major companies, namely Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Merlin and Sony Music. These four companies represent tens of thousands of record labels, thus, leading to the company’s claims that their fate is not completely in their hands.
The lack of complete control, combined with the complicated procedures of licensing and legally distributing music, has meant that the company has struggled to turn in profits, like other companies such as Netflix. The American entertainment company has focused on creating movies and TV shows and then driving them towards users.
Spotify has also caused some controversy, with it being sued last year for $1.6 billion for failing to pay artists. They have also been accused of using ‘fake artists’ and featuring them in popular playlists on their services. However, the company is looking to turn over a new page with their first step in the stock exchange.