Spotify subscribers rise to 188 million amid podcast setbacks

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Spotify’s premium subscriber base rose to 188 million in the second quarter, while monthly active users (MAU) are now at 433 million, the company announced in an earnings release today. That’s a year-over-year increase of 14 percent and 19 percent, respectively, compared to the 182 million and 422 million figures released in the previous quarter. The company says growth in MAUs was the largest ever in a second quarter and exceeded expectations.

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Earnings come at the end of a quarter in which Spotify’s heavy pressure on podcasts has seen some hiccups. One of the greatest podcasts, Answer all, aired the final episode on June 23 after co-hosts Alex Goldman and Emmanuel Dzotsi decided to leave production company Gimlet. Meanwhile, the Obamas, who signed a high-profile podcasting deal with Spotify in 2019, recently decided not to renew the deal and instead teamed up with rival podcasting platform Audible.

Spotify is still a podcast giant thanks to shows like the Joe Rogan Experience and more recent hits like Break bread, and the number of podcasts available through its service continues to rise. But the company sees audiobooks as the next major source of growth. It bought the audiobook platform Findaway last year, and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek called audiobooks “a huge opportunity” for the company.

Spotify suffered a loss of €125 million (about $127 million) this quarter, although it tends to prioritize subscriber growth over quarterly earnings. Average revenue per user is now at €4.54 (about $4.60), up/down from €4.38 (about $4.44) last quarter.

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Once again, the quarter passed without Spotify announcing a release date or pricing for Spotify HiFi, a new, higher-quality subscription tier it announced more than a year ago in February 2021. The tier aims to offer lossless CD-quality music streams (similar to what’s already offered by competitors Apple Music and Amazon Music), and Spotify originally said it would launch late last year. It is unclear what is causing the ongoing delay.

While Spotify is widely regarded as the largest music streaming service in the world, many of its biggest rivals in the west don’t release comparable subscriber numbers. The latest figures for Apple and Amazon music streaming services compiled by Music Ally are currently a few years old, but in 2019 Apple Music had about 60 million paying subscribers, while Amazon Music had 55 million in 2020.

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