Spotify users soar, but ad revenue is a sore spot

Premium revenue is up, but ad-supported revenue fell by one fifth.

Even with millions staying home and seeking comfort in streaming music and podcasts, Spotify couldn’t match its recent surge in users with ad-supported revenue.

The Stockholm-headquartered audio giant saw paid subscribers rise to 138 million worldwide, which is higher than the expected Wall Street consensus of 136.2 million. But revenue for the quarter ended June 30 came to just under €1.89 billion (approximately CAD $3 billion), up 11% year-over-year. However, analysts had estimated that Spotify would bring in €1.93 billion in revenue, causing a small hit to Spotify’s stock price.

And, although subscription revenue was up 17% year-over-year to €1.8 billion, ad-supported revenue was down 21% to €131 million. CFO Paul Vogel said in a call to media and analysts that there is a general “conservativism” in the advertising market at the moment, and that Spotify was feeling those pain points.

Even the digital duopoly of Facebook and Google had tough quarters, with the latter’s parent co. Alphabet posting its first-ever year-over-year revenue loss as a public company and Facebook’s growth being slower than it’s accustomed to. But those two companies still managed to defy Wall Street expectations on their revenue, resulting in modest-to-moderate stock boosts.

Nevertheless, Spotify remains confident that it will hit its full-year targets. It expects premium users to hit between 140 and 144 million next quarter, which could surpass analyst expectations of 141.4 million. It’s also forecasting anywhere from €1.85 to €2.05 billion in revenue next quarter. Analysts were expecting a forecast of €2.01 billion.