Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Daniel Ek plays down significance of Spotify’s stock market listing | UNLIMITED | CMU

Spotify Press Announcement

Well thank fuck for that. Spotify will finally list on the New York Stock Exchange later today, which means we can all stop fucking endlessly speculating about if, when and how Spotify is going to list on the New York Stock Exchange. How tedious was all that? But it’s over now. Tell you what, let’s all start endlessly speculating about what this wobble in Spotify’s share price, or that statement in Spotify’s quarterly financial report, tells us about the future of the entire streaming business. Sounds fun. Can’t wait.

But please, don’t get too excited about Spotify finally listing on the New York Stock Exchange. This is, after all, just another day in the world of streamed tunes. There’ll be no bell ringing. No parties. No long line of media interviews. Oh no, this is Spotify. And Spotify doesn’t do bells and parties and media interviews. It is far too busy curating fine playlists, delicately delivering stream after stream of the most magnificent music, and wondering who the fuck wrote that song and whether the songwriter’s getting paid.

This isn’t my sentiment, by the way. It’s the sentiment of Spotify co-founder and chief dude Daniel Ek, who penned a blog post yesterday reiterating earlier comments he’d made that – for Spotify – listing on a stock exchange is not the big defining moment that it is for most tech start ups. “Of course, I am proud of what we’ve built over the last decade”, he mused in his pre-listing missive. “But what’s even more important to me is that tomorrow does not become the most important day for Spotify”.

The streaming music firm, of course, is arriving on the New York Stock Exchange via an unusual direct listing, meaning no new shares are being put on sale. Meanwhile the company’s existing shareholders have been able to sell their equity on the private market for some time. See, nothing will have really changed by the end of today. Nothing at all.

Continued Ek yesterday: “Spotify is not raising capital, and our shareholders and employees have been free to buy and sell our stock for years. So while tomorrow puts us on a bigger stage, it doesn’t change who we are, what we are about, or how we operate”.

“This is why we are doing things a little differently”, he went on. “Normally, companies ring bells. Normally, companies spend their day doing interviews on the trading floor touting why their stock is a good investment. Normally, companies don’t pursue a direct listing. While I appreciate that this path makes sense for most, Spotify has never been a normal kind of company. As I mentioned during our investor day, our focus isn’t on the initial splash. Instead, we will be working on trying to build, plan, and imagine for the long term”.

Ah, imagining the long term. Presumably Ek is imaginative enough to picture a long term where the subscription streaming business is profitable for the subscription streaming platforms as well as the record labels and music publishers to which they pay royalties.

“I have no doubt that there will be ups and downs as we continue to innovate and establish new capabilities”, Ek added. Perhaps anticipating the hoo and the haa that will no doubt surround his company’s inevitable first share price slump, or the day Wall Street reacts negatively to a future financial update. Or maybe he’s thinking of the still unresolved mechanical royalty issues Stateside. Or the next time a premiere league artist declares streaming to be the enemy of all creativity.

“Nothing ever happens in a straight line”, he concluded. “The past ten years have certainly taught me that. 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. We have a lot to do – we are only in the second inning – and I’m more excited than ever for the future”.

Fun times. Who wants to start the ‘investors set to take Spotify back into private ownership’ rumour? I’d do it but, you know, I need a rest after 78 years of anticipating the non-IPO.

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