Reports of a massive injection of funding for Spotify have been bubbling up since January, the latest in a report from CNBC Friday night (the second of its kind) saying that the company had closed on a large round from Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street firm that has reportedly been leading the fundraising.
CNBC reports that last week’s deal was a “first close,” leaving open the possibility of a series of smaller investments, possibly from UK-based invest firm Lansdowne, Scottish firm Bailie Gifford, New York’s D.E. Shaw Group, Connecticut-based Discovery Capital Management, Halcyon Asset Management (offices in New York and London), P. Schoenfeld Asset Management (the concern responsible for precipitating Vivendi’s recent $1 billion dividend payout), London’s Rinkelberg Capital and Montreal-based Senvest Capitol.
Spotify refused Billboard’s request for comment on the report.
The market is growing, if not at the pace industry leaders would wish. Subscription streaming service revenues were up 39 percent last year, with subscription services now accounting for 23 percent of global digital revenues across the market’s 41 million customers. Last week, Spotify reintroduced a promotional offer intended to jolt those numbers, offering new customers three months of its premium service — which offers mobile and ad-free listening — for $0.99.
There has been a steady drumbeat in favor of limiting ‘freemium’ listening in order to drive fans towards paying monthly subscription fees, something Spotify founder Daniel Ek has defended repeatedly. To wit: In a report published this morning (May 4) from The Verge, Apple has reportedly come under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Justice for its dealings with the recorded music industry, allegedly trying to rally labels to cut off support of freemium streaming, something the company is said to not be offering with its upcoming service. Apple did not respond to a request for comment at press time.
The company is also looking to weigh in on the legal structures behind its payments to rights holders and the frameworks around copyright, hiring four lobbying firms in D.C. and at least two in the European Union, presumably to make its voice heard more acutely in ongoing discussions around copyright and digital royalties.
To say the streaming market is a work in progress is an undersell; the world’s two largest tech companies, Google and Apple, have yet to fully introduce their respective offers (Google’s YouTube Music Key was quietly introduced in November, but remains in beta with limited functionality on Apple’s iOS, while Apple’s streaming service is expected to launch next month), both of which, when fully available, will have an outsize impact.