Spotify cemented its status as the world’s music-streaming leader today by announcing it had again turned a profit in the fourth quarter of 2018, with paid subscribers growing 11 percent to reach 96 million. But fierce competition in the space and the need to spend big has Spotify projecting an annual loss for 2019.
Still, there was plenty for the Swedish company to celebrate in its latest earnings.
Spotify’s earnings appear to include its first-ever operating profit of $107 million. One year ago, the company lost almost as much in the same quarter. The result seems to indicate the company is getting closer to finding a sustainable economic streaming model.
Overall, revenue grew to $1.7 billion for the fourth quarter, up 30 percent from the same quarter one year ago, and 11 percent from Q3 2018. Its profit was $503 million for the quarter, up from the $679 million loss it posted one year ago.
On an annual basis, the company lost $89 million in 2018 compared to $1.4 billion in 2017.
The company reported 96 million paid subscribers for the quarter, up from 87 million at the end of Q3 and 71 million one year ago. A chart Spotify included in its released would seem to indicate it has about 32 million paid subscribers in North America. That compares to the 56 million paid subscribers worldwide Apple said it had last November, up from 38 million in March 2018. Apple only reveals numbers sporadically, so it’s hard to make a solid comparison in terms of growth rate.
Going forward, Spotify noted that it continues to focus on growth. The earnings release came just after the company announced it would acquire podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor for an undisclosed sum.
Spotify said it expects to post a loss of between $228 million and $410 million in 2019.