According to its latest filing with Companies House in the UK, where it is based, Spotify posted a decrease in revenues, from £96.5 million in 2011, to £92.6 million in 2012. Advertising revenue increased, from £8.1 million to £9.1 million, but sales of subscriptions were down, from £72.5 million to £64.8 million. Losses after tax for 2012 totaled £10.1 million, reversing a £21 million profit in 2011.
It is worth noting that the new figures are for Spotify Ltd only – the Spotify Group accounts came out in July and showed the subscription service generated revenues of €434.7 million (US$584 million) last year, up 128.3% from €190.4 million in 2011. Those accounts were filed with the registry of companies in Luxembourg by its holding company, Spotify Technology. Also worth pointing out is that during the first 5 months of 2011, global premium revenue was recognized in Spotify Ltd. But from as from June 2011 the premium service was provided locally and so the revenue was recognized in the local sales subscriptions.
The rate of growth in the wider subscription sector makes the UK figures a little misleading, particularly given the number of markets Spotify is now available in. Although the company hasn’t updated its subscriber numbers since March (6 million paying users and 24 million active users), both those totals will have increased. By how much, we will all have to wait and see.
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For anyone interested in the recorded-music industry and where it is headed, it is difficult to escape the many articles and reports speculating on how music will be served to consumers in the coming years. For those living in Norway or Sweden the answer is already very clear with music subscription services leading the charge to a growth in sales after countless years of decline. Such has been the rise in music subscriptions in the two countries, streaming now forms part of sales charts published each week. IFPI Norway added streaming to album charts from the beginning of November. Previously, the album chart had only included physical sales and downloads. Sweden added streaming to its national album chart in October. IFPI Norway said by including streaming figures the album and singles charts reflected “the total consumption of music in Norway.” Streaming has been included in the Norwegian singles chart since the spring of 2011.
Adding streaming usage to a sales chart is a natural progression in the collation of music sales and recognition of how accessing recorded-music has changed. Excluding streaming from sales charts, particularly in a country where the majority of trade revenues now come from subscription services, would make those charts incomplete, unrepresentative and irrelevant. Continue reading
Music-subscription services are in the headlines for one reason or another on an almost daily basis. The leading services are either hailed as the savior of the recorded-music industry or are criticized for not paying artists enough for the use of their music. Arguments and differences of opinion will most likely rumble on for years to come until the next big thing emerges promising a brighter future for all.
What should be remembered is that despite the rapid rise to dominance in some northern European countries, the subscription model is still in the early stages of development. Plenty of artists initially held off from making their music available to download stores, but virtually all of the big-name holdouts have now relented. It is also worth noting that subscription services have only just scratched the surface of what they can offer. Take the latest deal between the Norwegian music-streaming service WiMP and the Olav Thon Group (OTG) announced this week. WiMP is to provide unlimited music for users of the OTG’s hotels and restaurants across Scandinavia. If that sort of deal became common elsewhere in the world then subscription revenues would start to look pretty healthy and the doomsayers just might change their minds over the benefits of streaming. Continue reading
In the past few months the publication of detailed national digital-music sales figures has illustrated great differences between countries’ digital-music-buying habits. Published analysis of digital-music sales patterns has drawn a variety of conclusions regarding whether subscription streaming services are cannibalizing download sales. However, as subscribing to music starts to become mainstream and download sales begin leveling off, or falling, more and more people are asking whether streaming is to blame. Continue reading
Google has launched a music-subscription service to complement the sale of music downloads from Google Play. The strangely titled Google Play Music All Access will go up against the likes of Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and Xbox Music in the US, with overseas rollouts expected soon. There is no advertising-supported tier, and a monthly subscription costs US$9.99. An introductory price of US$7.99 is in place until the end of June. Like its rivals, All Access offers curated playlists and suggested music-discovery options. All Access ties in with Google’s music-locker service, which provides storage for up to 20,000 tracks owned by a user. Continue reading
Celebrating a rise in global recorded-music trade revenues is something most in the music industry under the age of 30 have never done. After a flattening in trade revenues in 1999, every subsequent year through 2011 saw revenues drop. Last year, however, the industry experienced slight growth, bringing an end to a 12-year contraction streak.
The IFPI cautioned against getting too carried away with the result, and digging into the different national-trade-association results suggests it was right to do so. Moreover, although a 9% rise in digital sales was the driving force behind the return to overall growth, the differences in the performance and transformation of the leading markets effectively make any evaluation of the global recorded-music industry almost irrelevant. Continue reading
Few regions in the world have escaped the spread of digital-music services. Even in the least developed territories, basic digital services, such as ring tones and ring-back tones, have been rolled out in an effort to tempt customers to go digital. But even though many of the Gulf States have highly developed technology infrastructures, digital-music services have been slow to take hold. Moreover, the lack of collection societies to administer rights collections has left the region as something of a rights wasteland. Could overseas involvement kick-start the rights-administration process? Continue reading
As the issue of multiterritory licensing comes under the spotlight in Europe, differences in rates charged and rights splits will become more evident. Will an EU directive that breaks down national borders be followed by a bigger push for deeper collection-society harmonization across the region?
With publication of the European Commission’s new multiterritory licensing proposals, Brussels’ efforts to harmonize the EU’s digital-music landscape are looking to build on legislation harmonizing authors’ and publishers’ rights that are managed by collection societies. Continue reading
Political change has come to France and the impact of the switch to a socialist president, following the election of François Hollande earlier this month, could be felt by the music industry. Hollande has begun looking at reforming tough anti-piracy measures despite claims from the music industry that targeting file sharers is beginning to generate increased interest in the legal digital sector. Continue reading
Mobile is the value-add that attracts the highest premium in streaming services. According to sources at the US streaming service Rdio, the majority of its subscribers take the top-premium mobile-access plan. Continue reading