Down the road, the company will need to ensure that it can avoid celebrity feuds, and foster relationships to gain access to more exclusive content. That can give it a major advantage over rival streaming services. The company says it has a great relationship with people in the industry, noting that it has paid more than $9.86 billion in royalties to artists, music labels and publishers since it launched in 2008.
Spotify has been looking to get into podcasts and video as well, two areas that are key to its strategy. In its IPO filing, the company said that even though it's an audio-first platform, it will look to include more non-music content in the future, such as "spoken word and short-form interstitial video." We've seen Spotify experiment with things like, most recently, using video loops as artwork for songs, and earlier this year it revamped its podcasts to include more photos and video from BuzzFeed and other media outlets. You can expect to see more of this type of content in the future.
In addition to new features, Spotify says it's equally important to launch in new markets. At the moment, the service is available in 65 countries, but it hopes to increase that number in the coming years -- though it doesn't specify by how much. The company said that before launching in a new market, however, it first needs to optimize the Spotify experience for local music preferences, obtain the necessary rights and hire curators who are familiar with the scene.
"Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we stumble," Daniel Ek, Spotify's co-founder and CEO, said in a blog post. "The constant is that we believe we are still early in our journey and we have room to learn and grow." Ek added that going public shouldn't change Spotify's mission: "To unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it." But that's easier said than done, as there may come a time when Spotify has to make decisions that appease its shareholders, not its users. That's the risk every company takes when going public.
Ek knows this, though. And he said he has no doubt there will be ups and downs as Spotify takes on this new phase and that it looks to "continue to innovate and establish new capabilities" going forward. "Nothing ever happens in a straight line, the past ten years have certainly taught me that," he said. "My job is to ensure that we keep our foot on the pedal during the ups, so that we don't become complacent, and that we continue to stay the course with a firm grip on the wheel during the downs."
Spotify's road to prove that it can run a sustainable business won't be easy, especially as tech giants like Apple, Amazon and Google take more serious steps to compete with it. But the company has proven since it launched a decade ago that it can keep users happy, continue to grow at a rapid pace and spread its presence worldwide. So, while it can't assure investors that it will make them money anytime soon, its future is far from bleak.