Spotify is thinking big. The Swedish music streaming giant has announced its arrival in six new countries, including Iraq, Libya, Tajikistan and Venezuela. This expansion aims to bring the platform "to more than a billion people around the world."
Spotify announced in February that the platform was "embarking on a sweeping expansion." Ten months later, that is evidently well underway, with the music streaming platform now available in Iraq, Libya, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Republic of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The firm announced on its blog that its Free and Premium services are now available in these six markets, in an initiative that allows the service to "introduce the music and sounds of more people, places, and cultures to listeners around the world."
A selection of playlists has been created to highlight the sounds of these countries. "Made in Venezuela" highlights Venezuelan artists such as Danny Ocean and Franco de Vita, while "أفضل الأغاني العراقية" pays tribute to Iraqi talents such as Aseel Hameem and Evan Naji. And it's a handy boost that could propel the international careers of these artists, according to Spotify. "The existing rich music cultures in each of these markets will now be able to reach Spotify's global audience," the company explained on its blog. "All this untapped music energy and access to our innovative creator tools will help propel artists to new heights and empower them to turn their passion into a profession."
YouTube Music is gaining ground
Spotify's international expansion comes after the company, founded by Daniel Ek, announced total third quarter revenue of €2.5 billion, compared to €2 billion in the same period last year. This growth is also reflected in the number of monthly users, which has increased by 19% to reach 381 million. Premium subscribers are following a similar trajectory, now at 172 million.
While Spotify may have seen growth in the third quarter of the year, it operates in an increasingly competitive environment. Its rivals, Apple Podcasts and Amazon Music, are stepping up their efforts in the podcast market, while YouTube Music is increasingly attracting attention from labels and artists. Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo and Indochine have all broadcast exclusive performances there in recent months -- sweet revenge for the Google subsidiary, long considered one of the music industry's great enemies.
Launched in 2018, YouTube Music surpassed 50 million subscribers to its paid services in September. That's 122 million fewer than its competitor and music streaming leader, Spotify, but Google's service is gaining ground, especially among young people. So much so that Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Midia Research, said that "YouTube Music is becoming to Gen Z what Spotify was to Millennials half a decade ago." And that could be enough to have music streaming's world leader worried...