Spotify, the music industry's quiet giant, became a public company at last on April 3, navigating the media fanfare in typical fashion: with a low key, understated and unequivocally-successful direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange. After its first seven days of trading, share prices seemed to average out around $150 apiece, below its $165.90 debut but well above the $132 at which it was measured in private trading before its listing, valuing the company in the $27 billion range -- among the 10 biggest tech public listings in history.
"It grabbed a lot more media attention than anything else in the music business has for a long, long time," says MIDiA Research managing director Mark Mulligan. "And that matters, because right now the music industry is depending on Spotify to act as a litmus test of just how much interest the rest of the world has in the industry now that it is firmly locked in strong recovery mode."
Yet some are concerned that Spotify's valuation -- almost double the $15.7 billion in revenue the IFPI reported the global music business earned in 2016, the most recent year for which metrics are available -- is out of step with the realities of a company that doesn't own its most lucrative assets, has deep-pocketed competitors and lost $1.5 billion in 2017, according to its F-1 filing.