That long-awaited Spotify IPO may be coming in the second half of 2017.
That’s according to Bloomberg, which cites “five people familiar with the plan”, although it carefully caveats the claim by saying it is Spotify’s “aim” to do this.
Actually, the timeline will not come as a surprise to anyone who picked over the details of the company’s recent $1bn funding round, which outlined financial discounts for investors if the wait for an IPO drags on too long.
The piece does pull out a more interesting aspect to Spotify’s path towards going public, however: the importance of its next set of licensing deals with major labels.
As Music Ally revealed earlier this year, Spotify is currently in month-to-month rolling agreements with the majors after its last deals would have expired – not as worrying as it may sound, since the rolling aspect is built in to the agreements to provide room for renewal negotiations.
But about those negotiations. Bloomberg claims that Spotify has “spent much of the past 18 months trying to negotiate the labels’ checks below 50 percent”, while labels push back by arguing that “Spotify is already paying less than market rates”.
Apple’s 57.5% rate for labels is cited as the common comparison to Spotify’s (roughly) 55%, with that Play Your Cards Right-style ‘lower or higher?’ question also cited by our sources as a likely sticking point in Spotify’s renewal talks.
Apple is far from a soft touch at the negotiating table, to say the least, but its massive non-music profits do give it the ability to strike terms for Apple Music that put pressure on pureplay rivals like Spotify.
Yet as we’ve reported before, the haggling over payout percentages represents a Mexican standoff for Spotify and its major-label shareholders, with the latter having to balance the prospects of an IPO-based windfall with the impact on their revenues from a lower or higher payout percentage over the course of the next licensing deals.