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Spotify Eclipses 205 Million Paid Subscribers, Better Than Predicted

The streaming giant expects to hit 500 million total listeners -- both free and paid -- within the next two months.

Spotify's logo on a phone
Sarah Tew/CNET

Spotify hit 205 million paying subscribers at the end of last year, the music streaming service said Tuesday in its fourth-quarter report, surpassing a major milestone. 

The streaming service said 489 million people now use Spotify at least once a month, including people who listen for free with advertising. That's up 20% from a year earlier and marks a record increase in net new listeners. By the end of March, Spotify expects its total active listeners count to hit 500 million.

The growth in both paid and total users was better than Spotify predicted in October, when it anticipated 202 million paying members and 479 listeners. 

The latest figures reiterate Spotify's dominance in subscription music worldwide. Apple Music, considered its closest competitor, doesn't routinely disclose its paid membership and hasn't offered an update in more than three years, obscuring just how big Spotify's lead may be. Back in June 2019, Apple said its service had 60 million subscribers. (According to music industry researcher Midia, Apple held about 14% of the world's subscription music market last year, and Spotify's share is more than double that.) 

Spotify, unlike Apple Music, has a free tier that lets anyone listen to music with advertising. Apple has never disclosed its number of monthly active users; almost all people who use Apple Music are subscribers. 

Shares in Spotify were up 4.4% at $104.35 in recent premarket trade. Through Monday's close, Spotify's stock has dropped more than 40% in the last year. 

Looking ahead, Spotify predicted that it will have 207 million paid subscribers by the end of March and that its monthly active users will increase to 500 million.

In the fourth quarter, Sweden-based Spotify reported a loss of 270 million euros ($293.5 million), or 1.40 euros a share, widening from a loss of 39 million euros, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 18% to 3.17 billion euros in the quarter.

Correction, 6:42 a.m., PT: This story initially included an incorrect figure for Apple Music's market share. Midia estimates it's about 14%.