Spotify touts ‘full recovery’ from COVID-19 fallout with subscription growth

Spotify said it has rebounded from the slump it suffered at the height of the coronavirus pandemic as it continued to add subscribers.

The Swedish streaming giant’s chief executive Daniel Ek told investors Thursday that the company ended its third quarter with 144 million paid subscribers and 320 million total active monthly users, surpassing internal forecasts. Ek said global streaming “surpassed” pre-COVID levels during the quarter, marking a “full recovery.”

The CEO credited a return to normalized habits, such as listening to Spotify in their cars while commuting, a data point that had fallen under quarantine lockdowns. Listening on home devices, such as mobile phones, which exploded during the pandemic, also remained high, the company said.

During the third quarter, Spotify reported an operating loss of $47 million versus a year-ago profit of $54 million. Quarterly revenue grew 14 percent to $2.32 billion, due in part to a 9 percent rise in advertising sales.

Spotify, which called out a successful launch into the Russia market last quarter and “accelerated” growth in North America and Europe, said it expects to reach 340 to 345 million total active monthly users and 150 to 154 million paid subscribers in the fourth quarter.

Ek also touted its rapidly expanding podcast business, which includes 1.9 million podcasts on its service. Spotify’s own original and exclusive podcasts account for 19 percent of all podcast listening on the streamer. “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” a Spotify exclusive launched in July, was the most-listened to podcast through August, while “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which arrived on Spotify in September, is now the No. 1 show in all of the service’s English-language markets, Spotify said.

“We know that when we reach more listeners, we’re able to attract more more creators to our platform,” Ek said.

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