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Spotify now has million paying users around the world, the company said on Monday. But the music-streaming giant stumbled slightly in its recent entry into India, and its profit margins narrowed partly because of an aggressive investment in podcasts. In its first-quarter earnings report , Spotify said it had million users around the world, up from million at the end of last year. Of those, million are paying subscribers, compared with 96 million at the end of
When Spotify began more than 10 years ago, it had a simple goal: to establish itself as a force in the music business by making millions of songs instantly available to listeners worldwide. But with its announcement on Wednesday that it had acquired two podcast companies, the streaming service sent a strong signal that it has broader ambitions. No longer does it aim to be a go-to destination for just music fans. It now sees itself as a provider of online audio, period. Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed. With the acquisitions, Spotify becomes the latest player to invest in a medium once considered a low-stakes sandbox in the larger media environment. Now that podcasts have become part of the listening routine for millions of people, major companies have recognized them as an important — but still relatively cheap — source of content. In September, the radio giant iHeartMedia bought Stuff Media, another influential producer, and recently Hollywood has begun buying up rights to popular podcasts. Podcasts also offer a financial advantage, helping Spotify improve profit margin and reduce its dependence on the major record companies, whose licensing deals are by far its largest expense. By some estimates, more than , podcasts are available through Apple, a number that does not include shows that are exclusive to other providers, like Spotify.
Connor Ball, the year-old bassist of the British pop band the Vamps, was in the shower when he realized something was up. The song he was listening to on Spotify, by the American singer Lauv, had suddenly stopped. Ball remembered thinking. Then another song started playing. The music was odd, like nothing he would choose to play for himself. He soon realized that he had been hacked. The music was playing on Google Chrome, a web browser that Mr. Ball does not use.