Spotify Wants to Go Public Despite a History of Losses

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Makes Announcement
Daniel Ek, chief executive officer of Spotify Ltd., speaks at a news conference in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. Spotify Ltd., the music-streaming service, will open its site to software developers to attract new users with features such as ticket sales and song lyrics. Photographer: Louis Lanzano/ Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Spotify, one of the world’s biggest streaming music services, wants to go public next year.

The company, which has not reported a profit in the past 10 years, wants to list on the stock market in the second half of 2017, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources. Spotify declined to comment.

Investors may be reluctant to go along with Spotify’s most recent private value of $8 billion, however, if the losses continue. CEO Daniel Ek has been expanding into new areas, like short videos and concert ticket promotions, in an effort to reach profitability.

More than 100 million people use Spotify, including 30 million paying subscribers. That’s about twice as many people as pay for Apple’s (AAPL) similar music service. Pandora Media (P), which is more like an online array of radio stations, has approximately four million subscribers among its 80 million active listeners. Spotify and Pandora users who don’t pay hear advertisements.

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But despite Spotify’s popularity—and $2.2 billion of revenue last year—the service hasn’t made a profit because it must pay a large portion of its sales to record labels and music publishers as licensing fees. The company paid a total of $1.8 billion in fees, or about 82% of its revenue, last year. That included about 55% paid to record labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment (SNE), and Warner Music Group (TWX), Bloomberg reported. The labels also own minority stakes in Spotify.

Ek has sought unsuccessfully to negotiate lower fees. Apple pays more, 57.5%, Bloomberg reported, making the labels reluctant to go lower with Spotify.

For more about Spotify’s $1 billion deal, watch:

The pressure is on Spotify to go public because of the terms of a $1 billion convertible debt financing it completed in March. Under that deal, investors will be allowed to convert their ownership into public shares at a 20% discount, but the discount increases the longer they have to wait for Spotify to go public, Bloomberg reported.

Still, the IPO market has not been welcoming to tech startups lately. None went public in the first quarter and only a handful since, although they have performed well once they hit the stock market.

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