Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

South Africans will later in March finally be able to legitimately subscribe to Spotify, the streaming service that has revolutionised how people listen to music and which announced its estimated $1bn initial public offering in February.

Its local launch was one of the worst-kept secrets after the Swedish company, which is considered the gold standard of this new genre of music streaming, posted an advert in September 2017 for a "senior editor/music programmer — South Africa".

On Tuesday, Spotify sent out an e-mail, effectively confirming the launch, saying: "Spotify has some news to share. Please join us on Tuesday March 13 to catch all the details."

Like its unusual business model, which has attracted 71-million premium-paying customers in 61 countries, Spotify intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange using a direct listing, which omits the usual roadshows and hefty adviser fees.

The listing is considered a possible test case for other brands such as Uber and Airbnb when they eventually decide to go public.

Spotify offers tiers of music streaming — from free to premium at $10 a month — and says that it controls 42% of the global music-streaming market, which it claims is double that of its closest rival, Apple Music.

Of its 159-million customers, its premium users grew 46% in 2017 to 71-million, according to its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Its revenue in 2017 was $4.99bn, up from $3.6bn in 2016. But is operating losses grew to $461m in 2017, from $426m the year before.

The cost for the digital music service in SA is unknown.

A Spotify spokesman confirmed next week’s event to Business Day but would make no further comment.

Spotify’s unique offering of allowing people to stream music for free is a huge part of its success — despite ongoing battles with recording artists who say they are not compensated sufficiently — but so too are its clever recommendations and playlists.

Discover Weekly (released on a Monday) and Release Radar (on Fridays) are personalised playlists that suggest 30 songs each to every user. Spotify’s launch follows that of Snapchat, which announced an advertising agreement in the country in February with Ad Dynamo.

• Shapshak is editor-in-chief and publisher of Stuff (Stuff.co.za).