Spotify showed off its new London office to journalists for the first time last night, and dropped a few new stats on its UK business to boot. “Over a third of all UK label revenue is coming directly from Spotify today,” said the company’s UK and Ireland managing director Tom Connaughton, at the event. “That’s something we understand comes with great responsibility.”
British industry body the BPI has not yet published its official figures for trade (i.e. label) revenues in 2019, although the Entertainment Retailers Association said in early January that Brits spent just over £1bn on streaming subscriptions in 2019, and £1.41bn on recorded music overall – a figure that does not include ad-supported music revenues.
Other stats from Connaughton: “Every week we’re adding over 100 artists to our playlist ecosystem, about 50 of which are emerging artists”, while for podcast listening “in January this year, the UK was the number two growth market globally for Spotify”. He also noted that the new London office is Spotify’s first ‘tech hub’ outside the US and Sweden, creating 300 new jobs, including the team that developed the new Spotify Kids app.
Spotify’s head of music in the UK and Ireland, Sulinna Ong, also outlined how the company has restructured its music team into five verticals: artist and industry partnerships; artist and label marketing; a creative team for those artist partnerships; the editorial team responsible for playlists and curation; and now a separate ‘urban’ team “focused on working with the urban community to make sure that our campaigns fit the culture”.
(Having the editorial staff within the music team seems obvious, but it’s actually a fairly recent change for Spotify: one of its historical quirks was that the playlisters were housed within the company’s R&D organisation.)
As with recent quarterly earnings calls, Spotify’s UK/Ireland team were keen to push back at label concerns about the impact of growing podcast listening. “I actually see it as an opportunity. Podcasts attract an audience that we haven’t had before, which means a new audience that I can also tap into on the music side,” said Ong. “It’s also an opportunity for us to tell an artist’s story, and build that into how we connect artists with new audiences.”
Spotify’s head of studios in the UK and Ireland, James Cator, also dropped a couple of podcast stats, suggesting that “the last reported number that’s going round is about nine million podcast listeners” in the UK overall. That’s on all platforms, not just Spotify, but he claimed that the company is expanding that community. “If you haven’t listened to a podcast before, and you’re listening, you’re three times more likely to be doing it on Spotify.”