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Spotify boasts 70 mln subscribers amid stock listing reports

Spotify announced Thursday that it had hit 70 million subscribers amid reports that the world's largest music streaming company plans to go public in the coming months.

The Swedish company, which has been valued at up to $20 billion, added the 10 million paying subscribers since its last update in July.

Announcing its new subscriber base online, Spotify did not change its number for total users. It said in June that it had 140 million active users when including listeners who access Spotify’s free, advertising-backed tier.

Spotify’s closest rival is Apple Music, which was launched in 2015 as the market shifts away from the purchased downloading of songs on the tech giant’s iTunes.

Apple said in September that its streaming service had 30 million paying subscribers, showing a still significant gap with nearly 10-year-old Spotify but also indicating that Apple Music is growing quickly.

The subscriber announcement comes amid reports that Spotify plans shortly to go public, using an unusual direct listing rather than a more common initial public offering.

The Wall Street Journal, business network CNBC and news site Axios all reported that Spotify had confidentially filed paperwork at the New York Stock Exchange to pave the way for a direct listing.

Axios said that Spotify appeared to be aiming to go public in the current quarter which ends in March, while The Wall Street Journal said Spotify was looking at March or April.

A Spotify spokeswoman declined comment.

In a direct listing, Spotify would simply start trading shares rather than securing outside funding through an initial public offering.

A direct listing could save Spotify on filing costs and loosen the trading restrictions on its current investors, but could also be risky without the fresh financing to support the share price.

Spotify and its fellow streaming sites, which allow unlimited, on-demand listening, are credited with fueling the first substantive growth in the recorded music industry since the start of the internet age.

US music consumption jumped by nearly 13 percent in 2017, the sharpest rise in recent memory, according to analytical firm BuzzAngle Music.

But Spotify has also faced criticism and legal challenges from artists who say that they see little of the money.

Last week Spotify was slapped with a $1.6 billion suit by Wixen Music Publishing, which owns the rights to works by artists such as Neil Young and The Doors. The publisher accused Spotify of failing to secure proper licenses in its rush to build a 30 million-song catalog.

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