Renowned digital music service Spotify is growing at an impressive rate, but so are its losses in revenue given the high variable cost structure due to licensing fees that limits its options to rein in costs.
On Spotify’s Financial Performance
PrivCo reported that the company posted a 131% annual increase in sales compared to its 2011 results. Gross margins, which mainly reflect licensing fees relative to revenues, are also improving, now at 16.5%. However, Spotify’s challenge is that its costs are not flattening quickly enough to become profitable. Even after having eclipsed Pandora, Spotify suffers from the highest costs of revenue in the business and this impairs the company’s ability to generate an operating profit.
An analysis of Spotify’s financial statements shows that the company’s cumulative losses now exceed $200 million, with the company now having raised nearly $300 million in outside funds. Recognizing its need to preserve cash, Spotify has managed to generate positive cash flow by deferring payments to its trade creditors: in fact, the annual increase in its trade payables balance accounts for more than all of Spotify’s cash flow, indicating that the firm’s cash management strategy is based on stonewalling suppliers.
PrivCo’s CEO acknowledges that there is a problem with Spotify’s business model, and BLM concurs with him. He says, “Its pricing is fixed but the costs are variable, causing losses from the heaviest users. The dilemma is that the heaviest users are also the ones most likely to return; the lightest users are the ones most likely to cancel. So the churn comes from Spotify’s most profitable users.”
The current business model of Spotify is also is Achilles’ heel or weakest link. A single payment that grants an all-pass access will cause the variable costs incurred from licensing to hemorrhage the revenue and prevent a good profit from the business. Perhaps Spotify can take a serious look at its pricing strategy and charge customers in tiers rather than a flat-out fee. Somewhere along the line, a cap has to be drawn, just like a mobile data plan. For telecommunications companies, the mobile data plan cap acts as a deterrent from overuse so as to free up bandwidth for subscribers willing to pay for the service of having more data. In like manner, if Spotify introduces a price-tiering system, not only will it be able to capture users according to usage, it will alleviate the effects from some of its currently unhealthy cost structures.
** Share the BLM Magazine with your executive colleagues and friends!
Follow the Magazine:
(After you have filled in your email address in the column at the right hand side of the screen, a confirmation email will sent to your email address. You will have to confirm it before subscription begins)
Follow us on Twitter:
Like us on Facebook:
**As part of the Magazine’s drive to reward subscribers/followers, we will be providing subscribers/followers special access to exclusive content which will not be otherwise available to normal visitors. Please be sure to subscribe to the Magazine. Many visitors have given us positive comments that they will be bookmarking the site, but as the system is unable to capture a working email address to which the passcodes for exclusive content will be sent, they will miss out on this content. Do note that passcodes are locked to each exclusive content, not a one-for-all access, so do provide a working email address that you check regularly so as not to miss out on them!