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Spotify: Friend or Foe?
The exact terms of the licensing deals that Spotify made with the majors are not known; all parties signed nondisclosure agreements. In addition to sharing with other rights holders nearly seventy per cent of the money Spotify earns from subscriptions and ad sales—about the same revenue split that Apple provides on iTunes sales—the majors also got equity in Spotify, making them business partners; collectively, they own close to fifteen per cent of the company. Some analysts have questioned whether Spotify’s business model is sustainable. The company pays out so much of its revenues in fees that it barely makes a profit. It operated at a loss before 2013. (The company maintains that its focus has been on growth and expansion.) The contracts are renegotiated every two or three years, so the better Spotify does, the more, in theory, the labels could ask for. This makes Spotify unlike many Internet companies, in which the fixed costs of doing business become relatively smaller with scale. For Spotify, scale doesn’t diminish the licensing fees.
John Seabrook: Renevue Streams (New Yorker)
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