Spotify announced today that it has 140 million monthly active users, up from 100 million a year ago.
The music service declined to say how many of the 140 million are on commercial-free subscription plans and how many listen for free with ads. In March, Spotify—which continues to compete in the on-demand listening space with Apple Music, Pandora and others—announced it had 50 million paying users.
“The acceleration of audience growth is allowing us to continue to grow the ads business at a 50 percent year-over-year clip,” said Brian Benedik, vp and global head of sales at Spotify. “Six, seven years into the advertising journey at Spotify, we’re proud of that. It’s tough to do when you get deeper into the journey, but what we’re learning is this idea of understanding people from music.”
Benedik said Spotify’s ad offerings fall into three buckets: audio, video, and sponsored playlists and branded moments.
Video in particular is growing, and Spotify is adding nonmusic content like original series and podcasts to its library. The company is currently testing a discovery feature within the popular “Rap Caviar” hip-hop playlist. After a few songs, videos (including episodes of All Def Digital’s Traffic Jams) pop up on the screen. Benedik described the feature as a “test” and also said the company is testing pop-ups promoting Spotify’s original podcasts.
“How can artists—in the case of Rap Caviar—express themselves in different ways?” Benedik said. “Certainly music and audio is one thing, but video and visual expression is something that we’re testing with and that users are interested in.”
At Cannes next week, Spotify is setting up an experience targeted at creatives to show them the ins and outs of the platform. Data is a big part of its pitch. First-party data collected from user IDs like age and gender as well as proprietary data on listening habits underpins Spotify’s ad business for brands including Heineken, McDonald’s and Procter & Gamble, Benedik said.
“We can share very intelligently and clearly: ‘Here’s what’s happening on Spotify,’” Benedik said. “More importantly, we can tell some of these brands how their audiences are behaving on Spotify. It sets the stage for a much different conversation than we’ve ever been able to have before.”