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February 15 2014


January 30 2014

Forgotify Only Plays Spotify Songs That No One Has Ever Played Before
Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.10.04 AMIndie music? Pffft. Indie music is way too main stream, man. All the cool kids are into music that no one has ever heard. Meet Forgotify. Forgotify tears through Spotify in search of songs with zero plays, playing only the songs that no one else has ever listened to.

January 20 2014

Spotify Adds Commission-Free Merchandise Feature As Artist Sweetener
spotify-merchSpotify has added the ability for artists distributing music via its platform to offer merchandise to fans without taking any commission on sales of t-shirts et al. It was previously running a pilot of the feature with 200+ artists but has now opened it up to all artists using its platform. It’s partnering with Topspin for the merch feature, which also isn’t taken any kind of cut on sales (although artists are required to sign up for a Topspin ArtistLink account to activate the feature). With no direct pie-slicing going on, this looks like a sweetener for artists to give them an incentive to continue streaming their music via Spotify — by helping to foster additional revenue streams, beyond paying to play the music itself. Spotify has, after all, suffered various tongue-lashings at the hands of artists unhappy with its business model (last year Radiohead’s Thom York dubbed it “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse“, in one memorable example of musician streaming music rage). Spotify is clearly hoping to make itself the good-guy with its latest offer. The new merchandise feature doesn’t require artists to change how they sell merch already — rather listings link through to artists’ existing store URLs — albeit they can only list up to three items of merchandise at any one time. So it’s not agreeing to host fully fledged merch stores on its platform, more providing space for a little taster. The merch feature is also only being offered to english-speaking Spotify users in the following countries for now, with plans to expand language support in future (artists in other countries can still list merchandise but it will only appear to users in the following locations): U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Spotify’s current usage stats stand at more than 24 million monthly active users and over six million paying subscribers (i.e. as opposed to those listening with ads squeezed between tracks) — making its active freemium to paid subs ratio circa 20%. Globally it says it has now licensed more than 20 million songs, with more than 20,000 being added daily. Its platform is available in 55 markets.

January 16 2014

Spotify Drops Free Web Listening Time Limit Everywhere – A Big Scalability Milestone
nomorelimits1Spotify's advertising engine and paid customer conversion funnel are finally working well enough that today it eliminated all limits on free, ad-supported web listening in all countries. It's an important milestone for the scalability and sustainability of Spotify's business that contrasts other streaming music services and Rdio that are stumbling or shutting down.

December 11 2013

Spotify Goes Freemium On Tablets, Launches Free Shuffle Product On Smartphones
spotifyFor the first time since launching, Spotify now offers free access to the mobile version of the music streaming service. As we predicted, the company has introduced a new tier of service on mobile, allowing users to search for songs and listen on the go for free.
Rdio Launches In 20 New Countries, As 57% Of New Users Come From Outside U.S.
rdioStreaming music provider Rdio has just launched its services in 20 new countries, making for a total reach of 51 different international markets. That's more than rival Spotify, for those counting, which used to rival Rdio by exactly one after launching in four new countries back in September, for a total reach of 32 global spots. Rdio has seen its monthly active user growth from countries outside the U.S. grow from 30 percent at the start of 2013, to 57 percent by the end of the year.

December 06 2013

Spotify Will Launch Limited Free Mobile Access At Dec 11th Event, Source Confirms
Screen shot 2013-12-05 at 6.33.49 PMSpotify plans to make mobile access to its music service free, The Wall Street Journal reports. Now a source confirms with TechCrunch that the free mobile tier will launch December 11th at a press event in New York. We've also learned users won't get unlimited on-demand access, but will be less restricted if they listen to playlists or collections they've previously created.

December 05 2013

Spotify Backer Northzone Raising New $272M Fund For Startups With “Nordic DNA”, $204M Secured So Far
Northzone, the Scandinavian VC that was an early backer of music streaming service Spotify and other notable startups out of the region, today announced that it is raising a new, €200 million ($272 million) fund, which it will use to invest in more startups with "Nordic DNA". It says that €150 million ($204 million) has been secured so far.

December 04 2013

Here Are 2013′s Most Popular Tunes, According To Our Informal Survey Of Music Startups
As we head into the last leg of 2013, you may find yourself misty-eyed, staring out the window and listening a mashup of this year's biggest musical hits. It was a good year, and not just because One Direction decided to make a fragrance. So to celebrate, I turned to a few music services to see what their users were listening to most this year.

November 21 2013

Deezer Will Launch In The U.S. Next Year And Fight Head-To-Head With Music Streaming Giants
Already available in hundreds of countries, French startup Deezer finally announced that the music streaming service will become available to American users in 2014. "The launch date is not final yet. But 2014 will be an American year for us," co-founder and CTO Daniel Marhely told the news agency AFP.
Technology Crossover Ventures Funds All Of Spotify's $250M International Growth Round
Technology Crossover Ventures is making its biggest bet (ever/in years) by backing the entirety of Spotify new $250 million round, a source tells TechCrunch. The Wall Street Journal's report of Spotify raising the round at a valuation above $4 billion is right, and it will fuel Spotify's push to become the defacto streaming music service around the world, our source says.

September 30 2013

To Put Its Listening Rooms On More Platforms, Soundrop Picks Up $3.4M Led By Spotify Investor Northzone
Norwegian startup Soundrop first made its name as an app on Spotify, tapping into the streaming platform's catalog to create real-time group listening rooms that were popular places for Spotify users to congregate for more social listening experiences. But as Spotify itself has become a more social platform by default, Soundrop is expanding what it does, and where it does it. Today, it is today announcing a $3.4 million round of funding -- led by none other than Spotify's lead investor, Northzone -- that it wants to use to turn up the volume on its growth to more platforms beyond Spotify and into more areas beyond simple listening rooms.

September 06 2013


Let The Music Play: Spotify Is Raising Money Again At A $5.3B Valuation, Says Swedish Paper

Spotify, the very popular music streaming service, is moving ahead with its aggressive growth strategy, and it looks like it’s raising more money to do it: a report today in the Swedish financial paper Dagens Industri says that the Stockholm-based startup is looking for backers at a 35 billion kronor ($5.27 billion) valuation.

It further reports that the money that is being raised may come in the form of a loan rather than an equity investment, with the two co-founders, CEO Daniel Ek and Spotify’s two founders CEO Daniel Ek and chairman Martin Lorentzon reluctant to give up more of the company to investors.

We have reached out to Spotify to confirm the report, and are trying to figure out what size this latest round may be, and will update as we learn more.

To put this valuation in context, last November the company had an estimated value of $3 billion around the time that it closed a $100 million round. About half of that last round came from Goldman Sachs, with Coca Cola taking 10% and Fidelity 15%. To date, Spotify has raised $288 million.

Spotify, which now has 6 million paying users and tens of millions more who use its free, ad-funded services in 28 countries across desktop and mobile devices, as well as through more traditional music gear, is at a crucial crossroads in its growth, and scaling out its business is a cornerstone for its success.

Right now, the company says it pays around 70% of all revenues it makes back to rightsholders. After further deductions for its own marketing, technology, operating and other expenses, that leaves a thinner piece for Spotify: adding more users, and more streamed music, to its network will help that that proportion become a more valuable one.

At the end of July, when Spotify published its last financial reports (a regulatory requirement for companies in Sweden), it posted a loss of $78 million of revenues of $577 million.

There is also the issue of competition. In markets like the U.S. and elsewhere Spotify competes against the likes of Pandora, Rdio, Songza and many more to become the digital music (and maybe one day digital media including video?) service of choice for consumers, most of whom are not likely to pay for more than one service. Investing more to make Spotify more ubiquitous and more convenient to use than products from its competition is important, too.

Spotify has been working hard to launch ever more new features and new services to snare in more users, and that kind of development also comes at a price. Just earlier this week, the company unveiled Spotify Connect for a more seamless experience to stream Spotify music to different audio hardware. Starting out with a selection of consumer electronics companies that make home speakers, the ambition for where this project will go is pretty big, with the idea that it could include cars, other electronics in the home and who knows what else. “Remember when every music device came with a tape deck or CD player or radio? We would like that ubiquity for Spotify, to be that way on every device,” Pascal de Mul, Spotify’s global head of hardware partnerships, told me in an interview earlier this week.

The counterbalance to all these growth stories, and potentially another resource drain for Spotify, could be how the company plays out its relations with artists and record labels.

It’s come under fire already from some high profile musicians for how it handles payouts. And some copyright holders are now going so far as to start testing the waters over just how much control they have over other kinds of intellectual property on the streaming platform: a case yesterday concerning the Ministry of Sound suing for copyright infringement over playlists being created on Spotify sounds absurd in one regard, but it also points to how there are still a lot of unexplored areas for where Spotify may find itself liable for more payments. Another reason why raising money now may not be such a bad idea.

September 05 2013

With 100K Titles In Tow, Oyster Brings Netflix To Book Lovers With New All-You-Can-Read Subscription Service
While the pace has slowed of late, thanks to Kindles, Nooks, iPads and the steady advance of mobile technology, the eBook market (and the demand for all manners of digital content) has grown steadily over the past few years. According to the LA Times, the total revenue generated from eBook sales in the U.S. topped $3 billion in 2012, a 44 percent increase from 2011. Meanwhile, across the pond, eBook sales quietly turned in a record year, with sales leaping 134 percent last year.

August 10 2013

Spotify Wants To Be Everything To Everyone
You can get a little music from a lot of places, but Spotify is on a quest to be your omni-jukebox. It's already offers on-demand streaming and radio, and it's just launched Browse, a new way to discover critic and community playlists for different moods and genres. Spotify hopes to combine social, algorithms, and expert curation to beat the platforms and become the only music companion you need.

July 19 2013

U.S. Music Sales Down As Streaming Up 24% To 51B Tracks In 6 Months; Harlem Shake Bumps Its Way To The Top
As questions continue to swirl around just how well artists get paid through streaming music services like Spotify -- and what they can do to improve that -- Nielsen today released numbers that attest to how streamed music is rising against a decline in music sales. In the first six months of 2013, streaming music was up by 24% to nearly 51 billion streams, while overall sales of albums and track equivalents were down by 4.6% over a year ago, and are now at 210 million units. And, as a sign of what a strong role video is playing in the streaming game, the most popular track -- by a very long shot -- was Harlem Shake, the Baauer track that became the basis of a viral video free-for-all, with everyone and their mothers posting their own versions to YouTube to feed the meme.

May 29 2013

Spotify Launches “Discover” Feature For Its Web App
Spotify has launched Discover, a news feed that allows users to see recommendations, songs and playlists based on their favorite music. The feature, which was first rolled out last month in a limited release, is currently available on Spotify's new Web client and will eventually be launched in the music-streaming platform's desktop and mobile apps.

August 23 2012

TechCrunch PSA: Mute Spotify Advertisements If You Can’t Buy A Pro Subscription
Friend of TC Nik Cubrilovic posted this clever hack that allows you to listen to the free version of Spotify without having to listen to advertisements. He recommends that it only be used by people who, for reasons of geographic control, cannot pay for a pro account (which is totally worth the cash).

August 08 2012

Facebook Subscription Payments Go Live, But Will Spotify and Netflix Pay The 30% Tax?
Facebook Piggybank Calendar Done
If Facebook could collect its 30% tax on what we pay monthly for Spotify, Hulu, or Netflix using the subscription payments system it's rolling out today, it'd have nice new revenue stream to swim in. But that's a deep cut for developers to give away just to smooth out friction in the one-time subscription set-up for material services. So far, the only partners listed in the subscription payment beta started in June Facebook has listed are game companies like Zynga and Kixeye offering discounted virtual good and currency packages as beta partners. Facebook is a huge lead generator for media and web services too, though. It needs to leverage its powerful discovery channel to get into the payment stack, but 30% might just be too steep.

May 06 2012

Spotify Plays Can Increase iTunes Sales. Here’s Proof!
Spotify Drives iTunes Sales
Despite fears that streaming access cannibalizes sales, classical music record label X5 tells me when it launched an app within Spotify and saw streams of one album increase 412% in a month, that album's iTunes sales shot up 50%. The Swedish label's "The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music" soon reached #1 on the iTunes Classical charts, and broke into the iTunes Top 200 album charts for the first time, hitting #152. The stats back up claims by some record labels and Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek that there's no evidence of Spotify or other streaming services negatively impacting music sales. More data like this could encourage artists and labels to promote their streaming music presences, and push acts like The Black Keys and Paul McCartney who've pulled their catalogues from Spotify to come back.
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