Spotify's Daniel Ek Disputes iHeart CEO's 'Far From True' Claim on Listenership

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Spotify
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Spotify Daniel Ek speaks onstage during Spotify Investor Day at Spring Studios on March 15, 2018 in New York City. 

Just how concentrated is Spotify's core of dedicated listeners who actually use the service? During Thursday's second-quarter earnings call, iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman sought to illustrate the "fundamental difference" between the two wings of the audio marketplace: radio and what he called the "music collection me-time segment," or on-demand streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify.

Saying iHeart has a "well-distributed listener base" compared to its competitors, Pittman went on to claim that "75% of iHeartMedia's listening comes from 34% of our audience" while "73% of Spotify's listening comes from just 3% of their audience and 72% of Pandora's listening comes from just 5% of their audience."

On his call, Pittman said that level of "concentrated usage by a small consumer segment is exactly what happened to the brick-and-mortar music space, whereas radio's reach and usage is well distributed and as you can imagine that resonates with our advertisers."

After catching wind of Pittman's comments, via a tweet by analyst Rich Greenfield, Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek simply shot back "Not sure where that data is from, but it's far from true."

Greenfield also ran the numbers on the claim, noting that according to recent disclosures Spotify had 232 million monthly active users, who listened to 17 billion hours of content in Q2 of this year, which averages to 49 minutes per user daily. "If 3% listened to 73% as @iHeartMedia said," Greenfield noted, "it implies 3% of Spotify users listen to ~20 hours/user/day with remaining 97% at just 14 mins/user/day."


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