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Spotify could rack up 96 million paid subscribers this year

Spotify's total user base, including everyone who listens free with ads, could cross the 200 million mark by year's end, the music-streaming service said.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Spotify expects to reach nearly 100 million paid subscribers and around 200 million total listeners by year's end, the music-streaming service said Monday. 

The company made its predictions in a regulatory filing ahead of its plan to start publicly trading shares next week. In the filing, Spotify said it expects 92 million to 96 million paid subscribers by the end of 2018. By comparison, it had 71 million at the end of 2017, marking an anticipated growth rate of at least 30 percent. Including those who listen for free with ads, Spotify sees 198 million to 208 million total people using its service at least once a month by year's end. 

In a shorter time frame, Spotify expects to hit between 73 million and 76 million paid subscribers by the end of March, the company said Monday. Its next biggest competitor, Apple Music, said earlier this month it had reached 38 million subscribers, up by 2 million in a little more than one month.

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Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek has said repeatedly that the service's tough business model needs scale to become profitable. 

Spotify

As the world's biggest subscription music service by members, Spotify has been a major force in a larger cultural shift in music. After decades of buying music outright -- be it records, tapes, CDs or digital downloads -- the explosive popularity of services like Spotify and Apple Music mean people are increasingly paying flat fees for all-you-can-access tunes. 

Spotify enjoys an advantage thanks to its free, ad-supported tier, which is unique among streaming services such as Apple Music, Amazon, Google and Tidal.

In its guidance Monday, the company predicts this year's revenue to reach $6.1 billion to $6.5 billion. That would be growth of about 20 percent to 30 percent from a year earlier.  

It expects a full-year operating loss of $284 million to $408 million.

A company going public with its shares usually holds an initial public offering, but Spotify is taking a different tack. The service plans what's known as a direct listing. Essentially, it will just let anyone who holds its stock to start trading shares publicly on the New York Stock Exchange next week, without offering any new stock that would raise the company a bunch of fresh money. 

Spotify, which charges $9.99 a month for streaming free of ads plus other perks, will trade as "SPOT" starting April 3.  

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