Music streaming giant Spotify feels “really good” about how the business has performed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with consumption now above pre-pandemic levels, CFO Paul Vogel said during a virtual investor conference session on Wednesday.
Vogel highlighted “better than expected” user and subscriber growth in the first half. Spotify this summer said that its user base had in the second quarter grown to 138 million premium, or paid, subscribers and 299 million total active monthly users as of the end of June.
Speaking during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, which was live streamed, he also touted the firm’s early success in Russia and addressed the relationship with music labels and the opportunity in podcasting.
Consumption patterns “changed a lot” after pandemic lockdowns, Vogel said, with listening in cars down around 50 percent at the peak as fewer people commuted. But things have bounced back, with Vogel saying: “We are now back above the pre-pandemic levels in terms of consumption. We feel great about that.” And car listening is “now down less than 10 percent” from where it was before the pandemic.
Asked about podcasting, Vogel described what is one of the firm’s key growth areas as something that can bring benefits at the level of specific podcasting deals with creatives, as well as on the broader level of user engagement, growth and retention. “We look at it both ways,” Vogel said.
The Spotify CFO also mentioned the company’s recent launch in Russia, saying it was “one of the best first days, one of the best launches we have ever had.” He touted the opportunity for continued growth in users and subscribers in various countries around the world where Spotify is already available, as well as new market launches.
Vogel was also asked about a recent deal with Universal Music, saying that streaming is “the real growth engine” in music. Do labels still have a role to play? “I think there is a need for labels,” Vogel said. “There is this ability for us to work in parallel with each other.”