Media & Entertainment

Is Spotify Growing Fast Enough?

Image Credit: Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

In their earnings call on Monday morning, Spotify announced they hit the 100 million mark of paid subscribers to their streaming music service.

This is a major milestone for the industry leader, though the call was a bit of a mixed bag overall. Revenue beat forecasts, but Spotify’s earnings missed expectations. In response to this seesaw, investors pushed the stock down slightly in early trading Monday.

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag overall for Spotify in the last two years as, despite the gains in subscribers, the use of the service has seen only a slight uptick. While more people are listening, the listeners aren’t tuning in any more than they were two years ago. In fact, there is no segment in the chart below that demonstrates anything major by way of hourly increases in any given year since 2015.


One item playing into Spotify’s – and for that matter, all premium streaming music services’ – hands is the trend toward people willing to pay for their music.

For starters, the amount of Americans who never listen to streaming music – paid or free – is at 40%, down from 51% at the beginning of 2017. That’s a 22% decrease.

Listeners of premium music went up from 12 to 17 percent, over the last two years, an increase of 41%

When it comes to the type of music listeners have been enjoying on Spotify, there has been some marked change in the last two years. This first chart shows who was listening to what from April 2017 to April 2018, both for Spotify users and non-users alike.

Looking at the chart below, which shows the last 365 days, it’s clear rock and classic rock has taken a big hit with the Spotify crowd, with 27% fewer songs being chosen by Spotify users compared to the year before. Pop music got crushed even further, down 36%. You’ll note listeners of those two genres didn’t move anywhere near as much with people who don’t use Spotify.

The big winners on Spotify, year-over-year, are both hip-hop and R&B.

Hip-hop songs were being played nearly twice as often by Spotify listeners in the last year. R&B music has skyrocketed in that same time frame, with a mind-boggling 275% increase. Again, you’ll note the needle didn’t move in these two genres with the non-Spotify crowd.


Lastly, we took a quick look at age groups of Spotify users, year over year.

The chart below, over the last year, shows little change overall — except for one segment: The casual listeners in the 25-44 age group, those who listened to Spotify fewer than 5 hours a week.

In that cohort, listening is down by three percentage points.  

Streaming music is certainly the way of the future, as evidenced by younger generations wholly accepting the concept, as only 14% of those 25 and under never stream.

And Spotify, being the leader in the space, should continue to grow. The question, however, seems to be whether they will be able to grow fast enough.

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