HITS Daily Double


Spotify’s monthly average users (MAU) rose 18% in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 406m, while premium subscribers increased to 180m, a 16% spike over the previous year.

The company saw double-digit year-over-year growth in all regions, with particularly strong results in India, Indonesia and Latin America.

Revenue for 2021 topped $10b for the first time in the company’s history, reaching $10.93b. Gross margin finished the same as in 2020—26.5%—while premium gross margin was 29.2% in the quarter.

Revenue from subscriptions rose 22% to $2.6b. Advertising revenue jumped 40% to $445m.

On a call with analysts, CEO Daniel Ek addressed the Joe Rogan controversy, the call for a boycott and artists like Neil Young removing their music. “Too early to know—the impact is measured in months not days,” he said. “I feel good where we are.” He noted that the platform is trying to balance creative expression with safety and touted the publishing of Spotify policies and the labeling of any podcast that delves into COVID-19. “The important part is we don’t change our policies based on one creator or a media cycle,” Ek said. “While Joe has a massive audience, he has to abide by those policies.”

The company also announced it would realign its guidance practice by offering “quarterly guidance as checkpoints against our progress.” In the quarter that ends 3/31, Spotify predicts it will have 418m MAU, 183m premium subscribers and revenue of $2.94b.

Ek spelled out various areas where he sees potential growth. One is the eventual introduction of audio books, which will bring authors to the streamer; the other is the continuing rollout of tools that expand engagement.

Turning casual music listeners into superfans, he said, is another area for expansion. “More than half of the global music economy is streaming—it replaced one model where you paid à la carte. The scale has been redefined. We’re monetizing with a one-size-fits-all model and the evolution is to unlock true superfans through more flexibility and engaging with people by showing up in unexpected new ways.”