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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
___________________________________________________________

FORM 20-F
___________________________________________________________
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission File Number: 001-38438
Spotify Technology S.A.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
___________________________________________________________
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
(Jurisdiction of incorporation)
42-44, avenue de la Gare
L- 1610 Luxembourg
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
(Address of principal executive offices)
___________________________________________________________
Eve Konstan
General Counsel
ir@spotify.com
150 Greenwich Street, 63rd Floor
New York, New York 10007
(Name, E-mail and Address of Company Contact Person)
___________________________________________________________
Securities registered or to be registered, pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act
Title of Each ClassTrading Symbol(s)Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Ordinary Shares (par value of €0.000625 per share)SPOTNew York Stock Exchange
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report: 192,151,811 Ordinary Shares, par value €0.000625 per share.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.     Yes  ☐    No  ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.     Yes  ☒    No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).     Yes  ☒    No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP  ¨
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board  ☒
Other  ¨
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.    Item 17  ¨    Item 18  ¨
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  ☒


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
F-1
i

Certain Defined Terms
In this report, unless the context otherwise requires, references to “Company,” “we,” “us,” “our,” and “Spotify” refer to Spotify Technology S.A. and its direct and indirect subsidiaries on a consolidated basis.
Note on Presentation
Currency
All references in this report to (i) “Euro,” “EUR,” or “€” are to the currency of the member states participating in the European Monetary Union, and (ii) “U.S. dollar,” “USD,” or “$” are to the currency of the United States. Our reporting currency is the Euro.
Presentation of Financial Information
In accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (“IASB”), we prepare our consolidated financial statements on a historical cost basis, except for our short term investments, long term investments, Exchangeable Notes (as defined herein), derivative financial instruments, and contingent consideration, which have been measured at fair value, and our lease liabilities, which are measured at present value.
Non-IFRS Financial Measures
In this report, we present certain financial measures that are not recognized by IFRS and that may not be permitted to appear on the face of IFRS-compliant financial statements or notes thereto.
The only non-IFRS financial measure used in this report is Free Cash Flow. For a discussion of Free Cash Flow and a reconciliation to its most closely comparable IFRS measures, see “Item 5.B. Liquidity and Capital Resource.”
Rounding
Certain monetary amounts, percentages, and other figures included in this report have been subject to rounding adjustments. Accordingly, figures shown as totals in certain tables may not be the arithmetic aggregation of the figures that precede them, and figures expressed as percentages in the text may not total 100% or, as applicable, when aggregated may not be the arithmetic aggregation of the percentages that precede them.


PART I


Forward-looking Statements
This report contains estimates and forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements. The words “may,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “seek,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue,” “contemplate,” “possible,” and similar words are intended to identify estimates and forward-looking statements.
Our estimates and forward-looking statements are mainly based on our current expectations and estimates of future events and trends, which affect or may affect our businesses and operations. Although we believe that these estimates and forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, they are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties and are made in light of information currently available to us. Many important factors may adversely affect our results as indicated in forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to:

our ability to attract prospective users, retain existing users, and monetize our products and services;
competition for users, user listening time, and advertisers;
risks associated with our international operations and our ability to manage our growth;
our emphasis on innovation and long-term user engagement over short-term results;
our ability to predict, recommend, and play content that our users enjoy;
our ability to be profitable or generate positive cash flow on a sustained basis;
our ability to convince advertisers of the benefits of our advertising offerings;
our ability to forecast or optimize advertising inventory amid emerging industry trends in digital advertising;
our ability to generate revenues from podcasts and other non-music content;
potential disputes or liabilities associated with content made available on our Service (as defined below);
risks relating to acquisitions, investments, and strategic alliances;
the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health crises;
our dependence upon third-party licenses for most of the content we stream;
our lack of control over third-party content providers who are concentrated and can unilaterally affect our access to content;
our ability to comply with complex license agreements;
our ability to accurately estimate royalty payments under our license agreements and relevant statutes;
the limitations on our operating flexibility due to financial commitments required under certain of our license agreements;
our ability to identify the compositions and ownership thereof embodied in sound recordings in order to obtain licenses or comply with existing license agreements;
assertions by third parties of infringement or other violations by us of their intellectual property rights;
our ability to protect our intellectual property;
the dependence of streaming on operating systems, online platforms, hardware, networks, regulations, and standards that we do not control;
our ability to maintain user data security;
undetected errors, bugs or vulnerabilities in our products;
interruptions, delays, or discontinuations in service arising from our systems or systems of third parties;
changes in laws or regulations affecting us;
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risks relating to privacy and data security;
our ability to maintain, protect, and enhance our brand;
our ability to achieve our net zero emissions target or make progress in other environmental, social, and governance initiatives;
payment-related risks;
our dependence on key personnel and ability to attract, retain, and motivate highly skilled employees;
our ability to access capital to support growth;
risks relating to currency exchange rate fluctuations and foreign exchange controls;
the impact of economic, social, or political conditions;
our ability to accurately estimate user metrics and other estimates;
our ability to manage and remediate attempts to manipulate streams and attempts to gain or provide unauthorized access to certain features of our Service;
risks related to our Exchangeable Notes (as defined below);
tax-related risks;
the concentration of voting power among our founders, which limits shareholders’ ability to influence our governance and business; and
risks related to our status as a foreign private issuer and a Luxembourg company.
Other sections of this report describe additional risk factors that could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor are we able to assess the impact of all of these risk factors on our business or the extent to which any risk factor, or combination of risk factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.
We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements. See “Item 3.D. Risk Factors.”
You should read this report and the documents that we have filed as exhibits to this report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from our expectations.

Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Not applicable.
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Not applicable.
Item 3. Key Information
A. [Reserved]
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness.
Not applicable.
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds.
Not applicable.
D. Risk Factors
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An investment in our ordinary shares involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully read and consider the following risks, along with the other information included in this Annual Report on Form 20-F. The risks described below may not be the only ones we face. If any of the risks actually occur, our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flow could be materially impaired. The trading price of our ordinary shares could decline due to any of these risks, and you could lose all or part of your investment. The risks described below are organized by risk type and are not listed in order of their priority to us.

Summary Risk Factors

Risks Related to Our Business and Operations

We face significant competition and we might not be successful at attracting and retaining users, including through predicting, recommending, and playing content that our users enjoy, or monetizing our products and services including podcasts and other non-music content.
We face many risks associated with our growth and our international operations, including attracting, retaining and motivating qualified personnel and obtaining rights to stream content on favorable terms.
Our business emphasizes rapid innovation and prioritizes long-term user engagement over short-term results. That strategy may not align with the market’s expectations.
We may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to be profitable, or to generate positive cash flow on a sustained basis. In addition, our revenue growth rate may decline.
Failure to convince advertisers of the benefits of our advertising offerings could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Emerging industry trends in digital advertising may pose challenges for our ability to forecast or optimize our advertising inventory, which may adversely impact our Ad-Supported revenue.
We may be subject to disputes or liabilities associated with content made available on our Service.
Our continued interest in acquisition or investment could divert management’s attention and disrupt our operations and harm operating results. We may fail to complete strategic acquisitions or investments.
Any change to, loss of, or claim that we do not hold any necessary third-party licenses, including under any license agreements or statutory or compulsory licenses, may materially adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Our major content providers have the ability to unilaterally affect our access to music and other content.
We are a party to complex license agreements and have a complex royalty payment schedule, which increases the difficulty of estimating the amount payable under our license agreements or relevant statutes.
Financial commitments under certain license agreements may limit our operating flexibility.
Difficulties in identifying the compositions in our sound recordings and the ownership thereof may impact our ability to perform our obligations under our licenses.
Assertions of infringement or other violation by us of third-party intellectual property rights, or failure to protect our own intellectual property, could harm our business.
We have limited ability to access online platforms, operating systems, hardware, or networks.
Failure to maintain the security of user data could result in civil liability, statutory fines, regulatory enforcement, and loss of confidence.
Our products may contain undetected errors, bugs, or vulnerabilities.
Interruptions, delays, or discontinuations in service arising from our own systems or from third parties, such as Google Cloud Platform, could harm our business.
Our business is subject to complex and evolving laws and regulations, including those related to copyright, privacy and data security, which may increase compliance costs.
We may not be able to achieve our net zero emissions target or make progress in other environmental, social, and governance initiatives.
Other risks such as failure to protect our brand, payments-related risks, fluctuation of our operating results, failure to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, lack of additional capital to support our growth, a global public health crisis such as COVID-19, changes of worldwide economic conditions and significant fluctuations of exchange rates, may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Risks Related to Our Metrics

Our user metrics and other estimates are subject to inherent challenges in measurement, and real or perceived inaccuracies may harm and negatively affect our reputation and our business.
Failure to effectively manage and remediate attempts to manipulate stream counts and attempts to gain or provide unauthorized access to certain features of our Service could undermine investor confidence.

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Risks Related to Indebtedness

•    Our indebtedness and liabilities could limit the cash flow available for our operations.
•    We may be unable to repurchase the Exchangeable Notes for cash following certain fundamental change or to pay any cash amounts due upon exchange.
•    Provisions in the Indenture could delay or prevent an otherwise beneficial takeover of us.
•    The accounting method for the Exchangeable Notes could adversely affect our reported financial condition and results.

Risks Related to Tax

We face complex taxation regimes in various jurisdictions. Audits, investigations, tax proceedings and changes to tax laws, including new proposals on taxing digital companies, in any of the jurisdictions we operate, could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We may not be able to utilize all, or any, of our net operating loss carry-forwards.
The social costs we accrue for share-based compensation may fluctuate significantly with the trading price of our ordinary shares.
Given our levels of share-based compensation, our effective tax rate may vary significantly depending on our share price.
We may be classified as a passive foreign investment company, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. Holders of our ordinary shares.
If a United States person is treated as owning at least 10% of our ordinary shares, such holder may be subject to adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences.

Risks Related to Owning Our Ordinary Shares and Our Status as a Foreign Private Issuer

Provisions in our articles of association, the issuance of beneficiary certificates, and the existence of certain voting agreements may delay or prevent our acquisition by a third party.
We do not expect to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future.
The issuance of beneficiary certificates to certain shareholders, including our founders, will limit your voting power and your ability to influence our corporate governance.
As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from a number of U.S. securities laws and rules promulgated thereunder and the rights of our shareholders may differ from those of shareholders of a U.S. corporation.
We are organized under the laws of Luxembourg and a substantial amount of our assets are not located in the United States. It may be difficult for you to obtain or enforce judgments or bring original actions against us or the members of our board of directors in the United States.
Luxembourg and European insolvency and bankruptcy laws are substantially different from U.S. insolvency laws and may offer our shareholders less protection than U.S. insolvency and bankruptcy law.

Risks Related to Our Business Model, Strategy, and Performance

If our efforts to attract prospective users, retain existing users, and effectively monetize our products and services are not successful, our growth prospects and revenue will be adversely affected.

Our ability to grow our business and generate revenue depends on retaining, expanding, and effectively monetizing our total user base, including by increasing the number of subscribers to our premium service (“Premium Service”) and the number of users of our ad-supported service (“Ad-Supported Service”, and together with the Premium Service, the “Service”) and finding ways to monetize content across the Service. We must convince prospective users of the benefits of our Service and our existing users of the continuing value of our Service. Our ability to attract new users, retain existing users, and engage active users depends in large part on our ability to continue to offer exceptional technologies and products, compelling content, superior functionality, and an engaging user experience. Some of our competitors, including Apple, Google, and Amazon, have developed, and are continuing to develop, devices for which their audio streaming services are preloaded or may also be set as the default providers, which puts us at a significant competitive disadvantage. As consumer tastes and preferences change on the internet and with mobile and other connected products, including cars, in-home, and wearable devices, we will need to enhance and improve our existing Service, introduce new services and features, and maintain our competitive position with additional technological advances and an adaptable platform. If we fail to keep pace with technological advances or fail to offer compelling product offerings and state-of-the-art delivery platforms to meet consumer demands, our ability to grow or sustain the reach of our Service, attract and retain users, and monetize content across the Service may be adversely affected.

In order to increase our advertising revenue, we seek to increase the listening time that our users spend on our Service or find new opportunities to deliver advertising to users on the Service, such as through podcasts and other opportunities relating to content promotion to users. The more content users stream on our Service, the more advertising inventory we generally have
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to sell. Further, growth in our user base increases the size and scope of user pools targeted by advertisers, which improves our ability to deliver relevant advertising to those users in a manner that maximizes our advertising customers’ return on investment and that ultimately allows us to better demonstrate the effectiveness of our advertising solutions and justifies a pricing structure that is advantageous for us. If we fail to grow our user base, the amount of content streamed, and the listening time that our users spend on our Service, we may be unable to grow our advertising revenue. Moreover, given that subscribers to our Premium Service (“Premium Subscribers”) are sourced primarily from converting users of our Ad-Supported Service (“Ad-Supported Users”), any failure to grow our Ad-Supported User base or convert Ad-Supported Users to Premium Subscribers may negatively impact our revenue.

In order to increase our Ad-Supported Users and our Premium Subscribers, we will need to address a number of challenges, including:

providing users with a consistently high-quality and user-friendly experience;
continuing to curate a catalog of content that consumers want to engage with on our Service;
continuing to innovate and keep pace with changes in technology and our competitors; and
maintaining and building our relationships with the makers of mobile and other connected devices.

Failure to overcome any one of these challenges could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

We face and will continue to face significant competition for users, user listening time, and advertisers.

We face robust and rapidly evolving competition in all aspects of our business, including from companies that allow users to share and discover content and/or that enable advertisers to use content platforms to reach customers, such as Apple, Alphabet (including Google and YouTube), Amazon, Facebook, and ByteDance (including TikTok). See “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Competition” for a more detailed description of certain services that compete with us.

We vigorously compete to attract, engage, and retain users against current and potential competitors, both globally and in particular geographic regions where we operate. These competitive risks are heightened because some of our competitors have more extensive hardware, software, and service offerings, longer histories, larger user bases, increased brand recognition, more experience in the markets in which we compete, and greater overall resources than us. These advantages enable them to devote more financial resources to technology, infrastructure, fulfillment, and marketing, which in turn enables them to offer competitive services at little or no profit or even at a loss. For example, prominent, well-funded competitors like Apple, Google, and Amazon have a competitive advantage because they can leverage the substantially broader product offerings in their ecosystem to gain subscribers through bundled offers and to monetize users. Additionally, our current and future competitors have engaged and will continue to engage in mergers or acquisitions with each other, as SiriusXM and Pandora, or Amazon Music and Wondery, have done, to combine and leverage their broad audiences, content, and capabilities.

Relatedly, we compete for users based on our presence and visibility as compared with other businesses and platforms that deliver audio content through the internet and connected devices. We face significant competition for users from companies promoting their own digital audio content online or through application stores, including large, well-funded, and seasoned participants in the digital media market. Device application stores often offer users the ability to browse applications by various criteria, such as the number of downloads in a given time period, the length of time since an application was released or updated, or the category in which the application is placed. The websites and applications of our competitors may rank higher than our website and our Spotify application in search engines or application stores, and/or our application may be difficult to locate in device application stores, which could draw potential users away from our Service and toward those of our competitors. For example, Apple, Google, and Amazon own application store platforms and charge in-application purchase fees, which may not be levied on their own applications, creating a competitive advantage for themselves against us. If other competitors that own application store platforms and competitive services adopt similar practices, we may be similarly impacted. In addition, some of these competitors, including Apple, Google, and Amazon, have developed, and are continuing to develop, devices for which their music and/or podcast streaming service is preloaded and/or able to be used out-of-the-box without the need to log in, creating a visibility and access advantage. If we are unable to compete successfully for users against other digital media providers by maintaining and increasing our presence, ease of use, and visibility, our number of Premium Subscribers, Ad-Supported Users, and the amount of content streamed on our Service may fail to increase or may decline and our subscription fees and advertising sales may suffer. See “—If our efforts to attract prospective users, retain existing users, and effectively monetize our products and services are not successful, our growth prospects and revenue will be adversely affected.”

We also face increasing competition because of new or emerging technologies and changes in market conditions. Our current and future competitors have introduced, and may continue to introduce, new ways of consuming or engaging with content, such as ByteDance, that cause our users, especially the younger demographic, to switch to another product, which
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would negatively affect our user retention, growth, and engagement. As the market for on-demand audio on the internet and mobile and connected devices increases, new competitors, business models, and solutions are likely to emerge. We believe that companies with a combination of technical expertise, brand recognition, financial resources, and digital media experience pose a significant threat of developing competing on-demand audio distribution technologies.

Additionally, we compete for a share of advertisers’ overall marketing budgets with other content providers on a variety of factors, including perceived return on investment, effectiveness and relevance of our advertising products and content offering, pricing structure, and ability to deliver large volumes or precise types of advertisements to targeted user demographic pools. We also compete for advertisers with a range of internet companies, including major internet portals, search engine companies, social media sites, and mobile applications, as well as traditional advertising channels such as terrestrial radio and television.

Large internet companies with strong brand recognition, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Twitter, have significant numbers of sales personnel, substantial advertising inventory, proprietary advertising technology solutions, and traffic that provide a significant competitive advantage and have a significant impact on pricing for reaching these user bases. Failure to compete successfully against our current or future competitors could result in the loss of current or potential advertisers, a reduced share of our advertisers’ overall marketing budget, the loss of existing or potential users, or diminished brand strength, which could adversely affect our pricing and margins, lower our revenue, increase our research and development and marketing expenses, and prevent us from achieving or maintaining profitability.

We face many risks associated with our international operations.

We have significant international operations and plan to continue to grow internationally. However, managing our business and offering our products and services internationally involves numerous risks and challenges, including:

difficulties in obtaining licenses to stream content from rights organizations and individual copyright owners in countries around the world on favorable terms;
lack of well-functioning copyright collective management organizations that are able to grant us music licenses, process reports, and distribute royalties in markets;
fragmentation of rights ownership in various markets causing lack of transparency of rights coverage and overpayment or underpayment to record labels, music publishers, artists, performing rights organizations, and other copyright owners;
difficulties in obtaining license rights to local content;
increased risk of disputes with and/or lawsuits filed by rights holders in connection with our expansion into new markets;
difficulties in achieving market acceptance of our products or services in different geographic markets with different tastes and interests;
difficulties in achieving viral marketing growth in certain other countries where we commit fewer sales and marketing resources;
difficulties in effectively monetizing our growing international user base;
difficulties in managing operations due to language barriers, distance, staffing, user behavior and spending capability, cultural differences, business infrastructure constraints, and laws regulating corporations that operate internationally, including compliance costs associated with our recently adopted Work from Anywhere program, as our dispersed workforce will be subject to many different local laws and regulations;
application of different laws and regulations of other jurisdictions, including corporate governance, labor and employment, privacy, telecommunications and media, cybersecurity, content moderation, environmental, health and safety, consumer protection, liability standards and regulations, as well as intellectual property laws;
potential adverse tax consequences associated with foreign operations and revenue;
complex foreign exchange fluctuation and associated issues;
increased competition from local websites and audio content providers, some with financial power and resources to undercut the market or enter into exclusive deals with local content providers to decrease competition;
credit risk and higher levels of payment fraud;
political and economic instability in some countries;
region-specific effects of the COVID-19 pandemic;
compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act, and similar laws in other jurisdictions;
import and export controls and economic sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control;
restrictions on international monetary flows; and
reduced or ineffective protection of our intellectual property rights in some countries.

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If we are unable to manage the complexity of our global operations and continue to grow internationally as a result of these obstacles, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be adversely affected.

If we fail to effectively manage our growth, our business, operating results, and financial condition may suffer.

Our rapid growth has placed, and will continue to place, significant demands on our management and our operational and financial infrastructure. In order to attain and maintain profitability, we will need to recruit, integrate, and retain skilled and experienced personnel who can demonstrate our value proposition to users, advertisers, and business partners and who can increase the monetization of the music and podcasts streamed on our Service. Continued growth could also strain our ability to maintain reliable service levels for our users, effectively monetize the music and podcasts streamed, develop and improve our operational and financial controls, and recruit, train, and retain highly skilled personnel. If our systems do not evolve to meet the increased demands placed on us by an increasing number of advertisers, we also may be unable to meet our obligations under advertising agreements with respect to the delivery of advertising or other performance obligations. As our operations grow in size, scope, and complexity, we will need to improve and upgrade our systems and infrastructure, which will require significant expenditures and allocation of valuable technical and management resources. If we fail to maintain efficiency and allocate limited resources effectively in our organization as it grows, our business, operating results, and financial condition may suffer.

We have experienced rapid growth rates in both the number of active users of our Service and revenue over the last few years. As we grow larger and increase our user base and usage, we expect it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the rate of growth we currently experience.

Our business emphasizes rapid innovation and prioritizes long-term user engagement over short-term financial condition or results of operations. That strategy may yield results that sometimes do not align with the market’s expectations. If that happens, our stock price may be negatively affected.

Our business is growing and becoming more complex, and our success depends on our ability to quickly develop and launch new and innovative products. We believe our culture fosters this goal. Our focus on innovations and quick reactions could result in unintended outcomes or decisions that are poorly received by our users, advertisers, or partners. We have made, and expect to continue to make, significant investments to develop and launch new products, services, and initiatives, which may involve significant risks and uncertainties, including the fact that such offerings may not be commercially viable for an indefinite period of time or at all, or may not result in adequate return of capital on our investments. No assurance can be given that such new offerings will be successful and will not adversely affect our reputation, operating results, and financial condition. Our culture also prioritizes our long-term user engagement over short-term financial condition or results of operations. We frequently make decisions that may reduce our short-term revenue or profitability if we believe that the decisions benefit the aggregate user experience and will thereby improve our financial performance over the long term. These decisions may not produce the long-term benefits that we expect, in which case our user growth and engagement, our relationships with advertisers and partners, as well as our business, operating results, and financial condition could be seriously harmed.

If we fail to accurately predict, recommend, and play content that our users enjoy, we may fail to retain existing users and attract new users in sufficient numbers to meet investor expectations for growth or to operate our business profitably.

We believe that a key differentiating factor between Spotify and other audio content providers is our ability to predict music or podcasts that our users will enjoy. Our system for predicting user preferences and selecting content tailored to our users’ individual tastes is based on advanced data analytics systems and our proprietary algorithms. We have invested, and will continue to invest, significant resources in refining these technologies; however, we cannot assure you that such investments will yield an attractive return or that such refinements will be effective. The effectiveness of our ability to predict user preferences and select content tailored to our users’ individual tastes depends in part on our ability to gather and effectively analyze large amounts of user data. In addition, our ability to offer users content that they have not previously heard and impart a sense of discovery depends on our ability to acquire and appropriately categorize additional content that will appeal to our users’ diverse and changing tastes. While we have a large catalog of music and podcasts available to stream, we must continuously identify and analyze additional content that our users will enjoy and we may not effectively do so. Our ability to predict and select content that our users enjoy is critical to the perceived value of our Service among users and failure to make accurate predictions could materially adversely affect our ability to adequately attract and retain users, increase content hours consumed, and sell advertising to meet investor expectations for growth or to operate the business profitably.

We have incurred significant operating losses in the past, and we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to be profitable, or to generate positive cash flow on a sustained basis. In addition, our revenue growth rate may decline.

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We have incurred significant operating losses in the past and, as of December 31, 2021, had an accumulated deficit of €3,220 million. While for the year ended December 31, 2021, we had operating income of €94 million, for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, our operating losses were €293 million and €73 million, respectively. We have incurred significant costs to license content and continue to pay royalties or other consideration to record labels, publishers, and other copyright owners for such content. If we cannot successfully earn revenue at a rate that exceeds the operational costs, including royalty and other licensing expenses, associated with our Service, we will not be able to achieve or sustain profitability or generate positive cash flow on a sustained basis.

Furthermore, we cannot assure you that the growth in revenue we have experienced over the past few years will continue at the same rate or even continue to grow at all. We expect that, in the future, our revenue growth rate may decline because of a variety of factors, including increased competition and the maturation of our business. You should not consider our historical revenue growth or operating expenses as indicative of our future performance. If our revenue growth rate declines or our operating expenses exceed our expectations, our financial performance may be adversely affected.

Additionally, we also expect our costs to increase in future periods, which could negatively affect our future operating results and ability to achieve profitability. We expect to continue to expend substantial financial and other resources on:

securing top quality audio and video content from leading record labels, distributors, aggregators, and podcast creators, as well as the publishing right to any underlying musical compositions;
creating new forms of original content;
our technology infrastructure, including website architecture, development tools, scalability, availability, performance, security, and disaster recovery measures;
research and development, including investments in our research and development team and the development of new features;
sales and marketing, including a significant expansion of our field sales organization;
international operations in an effort to maintain and increase our member base, engagement, and sales;
capital expenditures that we will incur to grow our operations and remain competitive; and
general administration, including legal and accounting expenses.

These investments may not result in increased revenue or growth in our business. If we fail to continue to grow our revenue and overall business, our business, operating results, and financial condition would be harmed.

Failure to convince advertisers of the benefits of our advertising offerings could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Our ability to attract and retain advertisers, and ultimately to generate advertising revenue, depends on a number of factors, including:

increasing the number of hours our users spend listening to audio or otherwise engaging with content on our Service;
increasing the number of Ad-Supported Users and the number of our users listening to podcasts;
keeping pace with changes in technology and our competitors;
competing effectively for advertising dollars with other online and mobile marketing and media companies;
maintaining and growing our relationships with marketers, agencies, and other demand sources who purchase advertising inventory from us;
continued impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on advertisers;
implementing and maintaining an effective infrastructure for order management; and
continuing to develop and diversify our advertising platform and offerings, which currently include delivery of advertising products through multiple delivery channels, including traditional computers, mobile, and other connected devices, and multiple content types, including podcasts.

We may not succeed in capturing a greater share of our advertisers’ core marketing budgets, particularly if we are unable to achieve the scale, reach, products, and market penetration necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness of our advertising solutions, or if our advertising model proves ineffective or not competitive when compared to other alternatives and platforms through which advertisers choose to invest their budgets.

Failure to grow our user base and to effectively demonstrate the value of our advertising offerings to advertisers could result in loss of, or reduced spending by, existing or potential future advertisers, which would materially harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. In addition, macroeconomic conditions may affect advertisers’ spending. For example, we experienced a decline in Ad-Supported revenue growth as a result of headwinds to our advertising business during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our advertising business has recovered, given the market uncertainty, it could face headwinds again in the future and adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition. Labor
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shortages and supply chain disruptions may continue to cause logistical challenges, increased input costs, and inventory constraints for our advertisers, which in turn may also halt or decrease advertising spending.

Selling advertisements requires that we demonstrate to advertisers that our advertising offerings are effective. For example, we need to show that our Service has substantial reach and engagement by relevant demographic audiences. Some of our demographic data may be incomplete or inaccurate. For example, because our users self-report their personal data, which may include their genders and dates of birth, the personal data we have may differ from our users’ actual genders and ages. If our users provide us with incorrect or incomplete information regarding their personal data, such as genders, age, or other attributes we use to target advertisements to users, or the data are otherwise not available to us, then we may fail to target the correct demographic with our advertising. In addition, changes to operating systems' practices and policies, such as Apple's App Tracking Transparency (“ATT”) framework, have reduced and may continue to reduce the quantity and quality of the data and metrics that can be collected or used by us and our partners. Google has announced that it will implement similar changes with respect to its Android operating system, and major web browsers, like Mozilla, Safari, and Chrome, have made or may make in the future similar changes as well. These limitations have affected and may continue to adversely affect our and our advertisers' ability to effectively target advertisements and measure their performance, thereby reducing the demand or pricing for certain of our advertising products and harming our business. The impact of these changes on the overall mobile advertising ecosystem, our business, and the developers, partners, and advertisers in the ecosystem are evolving and their ultimate impact is not yet clear. Additionally, advertisers often rely on third parties to quantify the reach and effectiveness of our ad products. These third-party measurement services may not reflect our true audience or the performance of our ad products, and their underlying methodologies are subject to change at any time. In addition, the methodologies we apply to measure the metrics that we use to monitor and manage our business may differ from the methodologies used by third-party measurement service providers, who may not integrate effectively with our Service. If such third-party measurement providers report lower metrics than we do, there is wide variance among reported metrics, or we cannot adequately integrate with such services that advertisers require, our ability to convince advertisers of the benefits of our Service could be adversely affected. See “—Our user metrics and other estimates are subject to inherent challenges in measurement, and real or perceived inaccuracies in those metrics may seriously harm and negatively affect our reputation and our business.”

Emerging industry trends in digital advertising may pose challenges for our ability to forecast or optimize our advertising inventory, which may adversely impact our Ad-Supported revenue.

The digital advertising industry is introducing new ways to measure and price advertising inventory. In the absence of a uniform industry standard, agencies, advertisers, and other third parties have adopted several different measurement methodologies and standards. Certain advertisers will measure the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns based on our ability to serve their ads to audiences that match their demographic data benchmarks, and our ability to meet the requirements of these third-party measurement providers may be impacted when we do not have accurate or complete user data. As these trends in the industry continue to evolve, our advertising revenue may be adversely affected by the availability, accuracy, and utility of analytics and measurement technologies as well as our ability to successfully implement and operationalize such technologies and standards. For example, we have introduced Streaming Ad Insertion ("SAI") technology to improve our targeting and measurement capabilities for podcast advertising that rely on our streaming capabilities instead of using downloads as a proxy. However, the impact of the shift in measurement from downloads to real impressions on our advertising revenue is uncertain, as well as its acceptance by our advertising partners or our ability to scale this technology successfully.

Further, the digital advertising industry is shifting to data-driven technologies and advertising products, such as automated buying. These data-driven advertising products and automated buying technologies allow publishers and advertisers to use data to target advertising toward specific groups of users who are more likely to be interested in the advertising message delivered to them. These advertising products and programmatic technologies may not integrate with our Service and if we are unable to deploy effective solutions to monetize the mobile device usage by our user base, our ability to attract advertising spend, and ultimately our advertising revenue, may be adversely affected. In addition, we rely on third-party advertising technology platforms to participate in automated buying, and if these platforms cease to operate or experience instability in their business models, it also may adversely affect our ability to capture advertising spend. The evolution of privacy laws, including the GDPR, CCPA, the ePrivacy Directive, and LGPD (each as defined below), may also impact the way we generate revenue from advertising.

Failure to successfully monetize and generate revenues from podcasts and other non-music content could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Delivering podcasts and other non-music content involves numerous risks and challenges, including increased capital requirements, competition, and the need to develop strategic relationships. Growth in these areas may require additional changes to our existing business model and cost structure, modifications to our infrastructure, and exposure to new regulatory, legal and reputational risks, including infringement liability, any of which may require additional expertise that we currently do not have. See “—We may be subject to disputes or liabilities associated with content made available on our Service.” There is
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no guarantee that we will be able to generate sufficient revenue from podcasts or other non-music content to offset the costs of creating or acquiring this content. Failure to successfully monetize and generate revenues from such content, including failure to obtain or retain rights to podcasts or other non-music content on acceptable terms, or at all, or to effectively manage the numerous risks and challenges associated with such expansion, could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

In addition, we enter into multi-year commitments for original content that we produce or commission. Given the multiple-year duration and largely fixed-cost nature of such commitments, if our user growth and retention do not meet our expectations, our margins may be adversely impacted. Payment terms for certain content that we produce or commission will typically require more upfront cash payments than other content licenses or arrangements whereby we do not pay for the production of such content. To the extent our user and/or revenue growth do not meet our expectations, our liquidity and results of operations could be adversely affected as a result of such content commitments. The long-term and fixed-cost nature of certain original content commitments may also limit our flexibility in planning for or reacting to changes in our business, as well as our ability to adjust our content offering if our users do not react favorably to the content we produce. Any such event could adversely impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.

We may be subject to disputes or liabilities associated with content made available on our Service.

We provide various services and products that enable artists, podcasters, and other creators or users to make content available on our Service. For example, creators or users can record and distribute podcasts using Anchor and can upload cover art and profile images. These may subject us to claims of intellectual property infringement by third parties if such creators or users do not obtain the appropriate authorizations from rights holders. In addition to intellectual property infringement, we have faced and will continue to face other claims relating to content that is published or made available through our products and services. These may include claims related to defamation, rights of publicity and privacy, and online safety. For example, we are dependent on those who provide content on our Service complying with the terms and conditions of any license agreements with us, our Terms and Conditions of Use, which prohibit providing content that infringes the intellectual property or proprietary rights of third parties or is otherwise legally actionable pursuant to privacy and/or publicity rights, and other applicable laws, rules, and regulations. However, we cannot guarantee that the creators and users who provide content on our Service will comply with their obligations, and any failure of creators and users to do so may materially impact our business, operating results, and financial condition. In addition, while we may avail ourselves of various legal safe harbors related to third-party content, we cannot be certain that courts will always agree that these safe harbors apply. We also face a risk that the laws related to these safe harbors or the removal of content could change. Changes in any such laws that shield us from liability could materially harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. See “Risk Related to Our Operations—Our business is subject to complex and evolving laws and regulations around the world. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, increased cost of operations, or otherwise harm our business.”

Given the large volume of content that various third parties, including record labels, distributors, aggregators, podcasters, live-audio creators, and our users, make available on our platform, it is challenging for us to accurately verify the legitimacy of such content and review or moderate such content to ensure that it is otherwise in compliance with our policies. In addition, advertisers may not wish to have their brand associated with certain types of content and if we cannot reliably exclude their ads from certain types of content, our business relationships may also be negatively impacted. If we fail to build and maintain an effective system to moderate the content on our platform, our users, creators, or partners may lose trust in us, our reputation may be impaired, and our business may be adversely affected. See “Risks Related to Our Operations—Our business depends on a strong brand, and any failure to maintain, protect, and enhance our brand could harm our business.”

We have acquired and invested in, and may continue to acquire or invest in, other companies or technologies, which could divert management’s attention and otherwise disrupt our operations and harm our operating results. We may fail to acquire or invest in companies whose market power or technology could be important to the future success of our business.

We have acquired and invested in, and may in the future seek to acquire or invest in, other companies or technologies that we believe could complement or expand our products and services, enhance our technical capabilities or content offerings, or otherwise offer growth opportunities. Pursuit of future potential acquisitions or investments may divert the attention of management and cause us to incur various expenses in identifying, investigating, and pursuing suitable opportunities, whether or not they are consummated. In addition, we may be unsuccessful in integrating our recently acquired businesses or any additional business we may acquire in the future, and we may fail to acquire companies whose market power or technology could be important to the future success of our business.

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We also may not achieve the anticipated benefits from any acquisition or investment due to a number of factors, including:

unanticipated costs or liabilities associated with the acquisition or investment, including costs or liabilities arising from the acquired companies’ failure to comply with intellectual property laws and licensing obligations they are subject to;
incurrence of acquisition- or investment-related costs;
diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns;
regulatory uncertainties;
risks related to integrating the acquired company’s various systems and processes and ensuring compliance with applicable requirements, including those with respect to privacy, data security, or credit card processing;
implementation or improvement of controls, procedures, and policies at the acquired company;
harm to our existing business relationships with business partners and advertisers;
harm to our brand and reputation;
potential loss of key employees and labor disputes; and
diversion of resources, including cash, that are needed in other parts of our business.

If we acquire or invest in other companies, these acquisitions or investments may reduce our operating margins for the foreseeable future. In addition, a significant portion of the purchase price of companies we acquire may be allocated to acquired goodwill, which must be assessed for impairment at least annually. The market value of our investments may also fluctuate due to volatility in the share price used to measure the investment. For example, the majority of our long-term investments relates to Tencent Music Entertainment (“TME”). The value of these securities is subject to the risks associated with TME’s business, as well as any changes by the Chinese government in foreign investment laws or elevated scrutiny or regulation of foreign investments in Chinese companies. See “Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk—Investment Risk” for additional discussion of the risk relating to our long term investment in TME. In the future, if our acquisitions or investments do not yield expected returns, we may be required to adjust our operating results based on this impairment assessment process. Acquisitions or investments could also result in dilutive issuances of equity securities or the incurrence of debt, which could adversely affect our operating results. In addition, if a business we acquire or invest in fails to meet our expectations, our business, operating results, and financial condition may suffer.

We have also entered into, and may in the future enter into, additional, strategic alliances with certain partners that we believe will help advance the success of our business. Such partnerships may divert management focus and resources from other aspects of our business, it may take longer than expected for them to produce the expected benefits, they may subject us to additional and unknown licensing or regulatory requirements across different jurisdictions, and they on occasion fail to produce all of the expected benefits. The success of these partnerships will depend in part on our ability to leverage them to enhance our products and services, or to develop new products and services, and we may not be successful in doing so. Any adverse results related to our strategic partnerships could negatively impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and could have in the future, an adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant volatility, uncertainty, and economic disruption. The full extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impact our business, financial condition, and results of operations will depend on numerous evolving factors that we may not be able to accurately predict and that will vary by market, including the duration and scope of the pandemic, including any resurgences, the impact of the pandemic on economic activity, and actions taken by governments, businesses, and individuals in response. The economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected, and could adversely affect in the future, the levels of advertising spending and consumer spending on discretionary items, which in turn adversely affect our ad sales and Subscriber revenue. Labor shortages and supply chain disruptions may continue to cause logistical challenges, increased input costs, and inventory constraints for our advertisers, which in turn may also halt or decrease advertising spending. Limitations on travel, “stay at home” orders, social distancing requirements, and other governmental actions implemented in response to COVID-19 have caused, and may in the future cause, changes as to how our users consume music and podcasts, and any failure to predict or address such changes in our users’ engagement with our Service could adversely affect our business. Any such effect could cause or contribute to the risks and uncertainties enumerated in this report and could materially adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Additionally, the majority of our employees are currently working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2021 we adopted the Work from Anywhere program, which allows most employees to elect their work location from physical office space and home mix options. These arrangements could challenge our ability to manage employees and maintain productivity, impact our financial reporting systems and internal controls, heighten the risk of cyber incidents, increase our compliance costs as our dispersed workforce will be subject to many different local laws and regulations, and introduce or heighten operational challenges. In addition, any rapid adoption by us of third-party services designed to enable the transition to
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a remote workforce also may introduce security risk that is not fully mitigated prior to the use of the services. Recently, organizations worldwide, including governments and commercial enterprises, have seen an increase in cyber-attacks, such as phishing and ransomware attacks, by bad actors taking advantage of the pandemic and remote workforces. Our own systems and the systems of third parties that we work with are subject to such increased threats.

Risks Related to Securing the Rights to the Content We Stream

We depend upon third-party licenses for most of the content we stream and an adverse change to, loss of, or claim that we do not hold any necessary licenses may materially adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

To secure the rights to stream content, we enter into license agreements to obtain licenses from rights holders, such as record labels, aggregators, artists, music publishers, performing rights organizations, collecting societies, podcasters, podcast networks, and other audio/video content creators, copyright owners or their agents, or obtain licenses via government-provided statutory or compulsory licenses, and pay royalties or other consideration to such parties or their agents around the world. We cannot guarantee that our efforts to obtain all necessary licenses to stream content will be successful, nor that the licenses available to us now will continue to be available in the future at rates and on terms that are favorable or commercially reasonable or at all. The terms of these licenses, including the royalty rates that we are required to pay pursuant to them, may change as a result of changes in our bargaining power, the industry, laws and regulations, or for other reasons. Increases in royalty rates or changes to other terms of these licenses may materially impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.

For example, if we fail to obtain licenses to stream sound recordings from major record labels; if the rates we pay for mechanical licenses that are set by the Copyright Royalty Board increase our royalty costs; if we are unable to comply with the requirements to maintain the compulsory mechanical license in the U.S.; if we are unable to obtain blanket licenses for public performance rights on reasonable terms; if our licenses with collecting societies and our direct licenses with publishers outside of the U.S. do not provide full coverage for all of the musical compositions we make available to our users; for podcasts and other non-music content, if rights holders or content providers do not comply with the terms and conditions of our license agreements as well as the Spotify Terms and Conditions of Use, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be materially harmed.

There is also no guarantee that we have all of the licenses we need to stream content, as the process of obtaining such licenses involves many rights holders, some of whom are unknown, and myriad complex legal issues across many jurisdictions, including open questions of law as to when and whether particular licenses are needed. Additionally, rights holders, creators, performers, writers and their agents, or societies, unions, guilds, or legislative or regulatory bodies have created and may continue to create or attempt to create new rights or regulations that could require us to enter into license agreements with, and pay royalties to, newly defined groups of rights holders, some of which may be difficult or impossible to identify. See also “—Difficulties in obtaining accurate and comprehensive information necessary to identify the compositions embodied in sound recordings on our Service and the ownership thereof may impact our ability to perform our obligations under our licenses, affect the size of our catalog, impact our ability to control content acquisition costs, and lead to potential copyright infringement claims.”

Even when we are able to enter into license agreements with rights holders, we cannot guarantee that such agreements will continue to be renewed indefinitely. To the extent we make content available based on brief extensions of license agreements or provisional licenses and/or continuing to operate on an at will basis, we may not have assurance of long-term access to such rights holders’ content, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and could lead to potential copyright infringement claims.

It is also possible that such agreements will never be renewed at all. The lack of renewal, or termination, of one or more of our license agreements, or the renewal of a license agreement on less favorable terms, could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. See “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Licensing Agreements.”

We have no control over third-party providers of the content we stream. The concentration of control of content by our major providers means that even one entity, or a small number of entities working together, may unilaterally affect our access to music and other content.

We rely on various rights holders, over whom we have no control, for the content we make available on our Service. We cannot guarantee that these parties will always choose to license to us or license to us on terms that are acceptable to us.

The music industry has a high level of concentration, which means that one or a small number of entities may, on their own, take actions that adversely affect our business. For example, with respect to sound recordings, the music licensed to us
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under our agreements with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Music and Entertainment Rights Licensing Independent Network (“Merlin”), makes up the majority of music consumed on our Service. For the year ended December 31, 2021, this content accounted for approximately 77% of music streams. Our business may be adversely affected if our access to music is limited or delayed because of deterioration in our relationships with one or more of these rights holders or if they choose not to license to us for any other reason. Rights holders also may attempt to take advantage of their market power (including by leveraging their publishing affiliate) to seek onerous financial or other terms from us or otherwise impose restrictions that hinder our ability to further innovate our service offerings. We have particular issues in markets where local content is important and such local content is held by local major labels or even individual artists, making it difficult to obtain such local content at all or on economically favorable terms. In addition, publishers’ fractional ownership of shares of musical works enhances their market power. As a result, the loss of rights to a major publisher catalogue would force us to take down a significant portion of popular repertoire in the applicable territory or territories, which would significantly disadvantage us in such territory or territories. The lack of complete metadata with respect to publisher ownership may also present challenges in taking down all the tracks that include the works of a given publisher. Even if we are able to secure rights to sound recordings from record labels and other copyright owners, artists and/or artist groups may object and may exert public or private pressure on those record labels or copyright owners or other third parties to discontinue licensing rights to us, hold back content from us, or increase royalty rates. As a result, our ability to continue to license rights to sound recordings is subject to convincing a broad range of stakeholders of the value and quality of our Service. To the extent that we are unable to license a large amount of content or the content of certain popular artists, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be materially harmed.

We are a party to many license agreements that are complex and impose numerous obligations upon us that may make it difficult to operate our business, and a breach of such agreements could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Many of our license agreements are complex and impose numerous obligations on us, including obligations to, among other things:

meet certain user and other targets in order to secure certain licenses and royalty rates;
calculate and make payments based on complex royalty structures, which requires tracking usage of content on our Service that may have inaccurate or incomplete metadata necessary for such calculation;
provide periodic reports on the exploitation of the content;
represent that we will obtain all necessary publishing licenses and consents and pay all associated fees, royalties, and other amounts due for the licensing of musical compositions;
provide advertising inventory at discounted rates or on other favorable terms;
comply with certain service offering restrictions;
comply with certain marketing and advertising restrictions; and comply with certain security and technical specifications.

Many of our license agreements grant the licensor the right to audit our compliance with the terms and conditions of such agreements. Some of our license agreements also include anti-steering, non-discrimination, and so-called “most favored nations” provisions, which require that certain material terms of such agreements are no less favorable than those provided in our agreements with any other similarly situated licensor. If triggered, these provisions could cause our payments or other obligations under those agreements to escalate. Additionally, some of our license agreements require consent to undertake certain business initiatives and, without such consent, our ability to undertake or continue operating new business initiatives may be limited. This could hurt our competitive position.

If we materially breach any of these obligations or any other obligations set forth in any of our license agreements, or if we use content in ways that are found to exceed the scope of such agreements, we could be subject to legal or injunctive remedies (including monetary liability), and/or rights holders could impede our business by withholding content, discounts and bundle approvals and the rights to launch new service offerings, and could ultimately terminate our rights under such license agreements, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition. We have entered into settlement agreements requiring us to make substantial payments in the past, and may do so in the future, as a result of claims that we are in breach of certain provisions in, or have exceeded the scope of, our license agreements.

Our royalty payment scheme is complex, and it is difficult to estimate the amount payable under our license agreements or relevant statutes.

Under our license agreements and relevant statutes, we must pay all required royalties to record labels, music publishers, and other copyright owners in order to stream content. The determination of the amount and timing of such payments is complex and subject to a number of variables, including the type of content streamed, the country in which it is streamed, the service tier such content is streamed on, the amount of revenue generated by the streaming of the content, the identity of the
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license holder to whom royalties are owed, the current size of our user base, our current ratio of Ad-Supported Users to Premium Subscribers, the applicability of any most favored nations provisions, and any applicable advertising fees and discounts, among other variables. Additionally, we have certain arrangements whereby royalty costs are paid in advance or are subject to minimum guaranteed amounts. An accrual is estimated when actual royalty costs to be incurred during a contractual period are expected to fall short of the minimum guaranteed amount. Moreover, for minimum guarantee arrangements for which we cannot reliably predict the underlying expense, we will expense the minimum guarantee on a straight-line basis over the term of the arrangement. We also have license agreements that include so-called “most favored nations” provisions, which, if triggered, could cause our royalty payments under those agreements to escalate. An accrual and expense is recognized when it is probable that we will make additional royalty payments under these terms.

We cannot assure you that the internal controls and systems we use to determine royalties payable will always be effective. See “—If we fail to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, our ability to accurately and timely report our financial results could be adversely affected.” If we fail to implement and maintain effective controls relating to rights holder liabilities, we may underpay/under-accrue or overpay/over-accrue the royalty amounts payable to record labels, music publishers, and other copyright owners. Underpayment could result in (i) litigation or other disputes with record labels, music publishers, and other copyright owners, (ii) the unexpected payment of additional royalties in material amounts, and (iii) damage to our business relationships with record labels, music publishers, other copyright owners, and artists and/or artist groups. If we overpay royalties, we may be unable to reclaim such overpayments, and our profits will suffer. Failure to accurately pay our royalties may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

From time to time, we pay royalties based on management estimates of the rates that will apply while we negotiate license agreement renewals. On August 11, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion which, as of the issuance of the formal “mandate” on October 26, 2020, vacated the Copyright Royalty Board’s determination of the royalty rates for applicable mechanical rights in the United States for calendar years 2018 to 2022. These rates apply both to compositions that we license under compulsory license pursuant to Section 115 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (the “Copyright Act”) and to a number of direct licenses that we have had with music publishers. Until the rates are determined, our recorded royalty costs, both retrospectively and prospectively, will be based on management estimates of the rates that will apply. When the rates are determined anew, these could either benefit or adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

Financial commitments required under certain of our license agreements may limit our operating flexibility and may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Certain of our license agreements contain minimum guarantees or require other financial commitments. As of December 31, 2021, we have estimated future financial commitments of €3.3 billion under license agreements for sound recordings and musical compositions (both for mechanical rights and public performance rights) as well as license agreements for podcasts. Such financial commitments related to our content acquisition costs are not always tied to our revenue and/or user growth forecasts (e.g., number of users, active users, Premium Subscribers) or the number of sound recordings and musical compositions or podcasts used on our Service. We may also be subject to financial commitments to rights holders with respect to certain strategic partnerships we enter into that on occasion do not produce all of the expected benefits. Accordingly, our ability to achieve and sustain profitability and operating leverage on our Service in part depends on our ability to increase our revenue through increased sales of Premium Service and advertising sales on terms that maintain an adequate gross margin. The duration of our license agreements for sound recordings and musical compositions that contain minimum guarantees is frequently between one and three years, but our Premium Subscribers may cancel their subscriptions at any time. If our forecasts of Premium Subscriber acquisition or retention do not meet our expectations or the number of our Premium Subscribers or advertising sales decline significantly during the term of our license agreements, our margins may be materially and adversely affected. To the extent our Premium Service revenue growth or advertising sales do not meet our expectations, our business, operating results, and financial condition could also be adversely affected as a result of such financial commitments. In addition, the fixed cost nature of these financial commitments may limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the market segments in which we operate.

We rely on estimates of the market share of streaming content owned by each content provider, as well as our own user growth and forecasted advertising revenue, to forecast whether such financial commitments could be recouped against our actual content acquisition costs incurred over the duration of the license agreement. To the extent that these revenue and/or market share estimates underperform relative to our expectations, leading to content acquisition costs that do not exceed such financial commitments, our margins may be materially and adversely affected.

Difficulties in obtaining accurate and comprehensive information necessary to identify the compositions embodied in sound recordings on our Service and the ownership thereof may impact our ability to perform our obligations under our licenses, affect the size of our catalog, impact our ability to control content acquisition costs, and lead to potential copyright infringement claims.

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Comprehensive and accurate ownership information for the musical compositions embodied in sound recordings is sometimes unavailable to us or difficult or, in some cases, impossible for us to obtain, including where the owners or administrators of such rights have failed to accurately identify their interest in a musical composition. We currently rely on licensors and other third parties to determine this information. If the information provided to us does not comprehensively or accurately identify the ownership of musical compositions, or if we are unable to determine which musical compositions correspond to specific sound recordings, it may be difficult or impossible to identify the appropriate rights holders from whom to obtain licenses or to whom to pay royalties. This may make it difficult to comply with certain obligations of any agreements with relevant rights holders. This may also make it difficult to identify content for removal from the Service if we lose the rights to such musical compositions.

In the United States, we also relied on the assistance of third parties to issue notices of intent to obtain a compulsory license under Section 115 of the Copyright Act to those copyright owners with whom we did not have a direct license agreement. The enactment of the Music Modernization Act (“MMA”) in October 2018 amended the process to obtain a compulsory license under Section 115 of the Copyright Act. In particular, from October 2018 through December 31, 2020, to the extent we did not have a direct license and could not locate the owner of a composition, the law no longer provided a mechanism for us to obtain a compulsory license, but instead provides a limitation of liability under which our only liability for the reproduction and/or distribution of such compositions is the royalty rate set by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board. That limitation of liability is contingent upon following various procedural steps outlined in the MMA and there is a risk that we can be found to not have properly followed those steps (which could expose us to the risk of increased financial liability in litigations). Beginning on January 1, 2021, the MMA provides a blanket license to reproduce and/or distribute musical compositions on our service. See “—We depend upon third-party licenses for most of the content we stream and an adverse change to, loss of, or claim that we do not hold any necessary licenses may materially adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.”

These challenges, and others concerning the licensing of musical compositions embodied in sound recordings on our Service, may subject us to significant liability for copyright infringement, breach of contract, or other claims. See “Item 8.A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal or Arbitration Proceedings.”

Risks Related to Intellectual Property

Assertions by third parties of infringement or other violation by us of their intellectual property rights could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Third parties have asserted, and may in the future assert, that we have infringed, misappropriated, or otherwise violated their copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property rights, and as we face increasing competition, the possibility of intellectual property rights claims against us grows. See “Item 8.A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal or Arbitration Proceedings.”

Our ability to provide our Service is dependent upon our ability to license intellectual property rights to audio content, including sound recordings, any musical compositions embodied therein, and podcasts, as well as visual and related content, such as music videos, clips, album cover art, artist images, and any other media assets that artists and/or labels can add or provide with their tracks. Various laws and regulations govern the copyright and other intellectual property rights associated with audio and visual content, including sound recordings and musical compositions. Existing laws and regulations are evolving and subject to different interpretations, and various legislative or regulatory bodies may expand current or enact new laws or regulations. Although we expend significant resources to seek to comply with the statutory, regulatory, and judicial frameworks by, for example, entering into license agreements, we cannot assure you that we are not infringing or violating any third-party intellectual property rights, or that we will not do so in the future. See “—Difficulties in obtaining accurate and comprehensive information necessary to identify the compositions embodied in sound recordings on our Service and the ownership thereof may impact our ability to perform our obligations under our licenses, affect the size of our catalog, impact our ability to control content acquisition costs, and lead to potential copyright infringement claims.” While we may often be able to seek indemnities from our licensors with respect to infringement claims that may relate to the content they provide to us, such indemnities may not be sufficient to cover the associated liability if the licensor at issue does not have adequate financial resources. Moreover, we are subject to claims of intellectual property infringement from content that artists, podcasters, and other creators or users make available on our Service. See “—We may be subject to disputes or liabilities associated with content made available on our Service.”

In addition, music, internet, technology, and media companies are frequently subject to litigation based on allegations of infringement, misappropriation, or other violations of intellectual property rights. Many companies in these industries, including many of our competitors, have substantially larger patent and intellectual property portfolios than we do, which could make us a target for litigation. We may not be able to assert counterclaims against parties that sue us for patent, or other intellectual property infringement. In addition, various “non-practicing entities” that own patents and other intellectual property
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rights often attempt to aggressively assert claims in order to extract value from technology companies. Further, from time to time we may introduce new products and services, including in territories where we currently do not have an offering, which could increase our exposure to patent and other intellectual property claims from competitors and non-practicing entities. It is difficult to predict whether assertions of third-party intellectual property rights or any infringement or misappropriation claims arising from such assertions will substantially harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. If we are forced to defend against any infringement or misappropriation claims, whether they are with or without merit, are settled out of court, or are determined in our favor, we may be required to expend significant time and financial resources on the defense of such claims. Furthermore, an adverse outcome of a dispute may require us to pay significant damages, which may be even greater if we are found to have willfully infringed upon a party’s intellectual property; cease exploiting copyrighted content that we have previously had the ability to exploit; cease using solutions that are alleged to infringe or misappropriate the intellectual property of others; expend additional development resources to redesign our solutions; enter into potentially unfavorable royalty or license agreements in order to obtain the right to use necessary technologies, content, or materials; indemnify our partners and other third parties; and/or take other actions that may have material effects on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Moreover, we rely on multiple software programmers to design our proprietary technologies, and we regularly contribute software source code under “open source” licenses and have made technology we developed available under open source licenses. We cannot assure you that our efforts to prevent the incorporation of licenses that would require us to disclose code and/or innovations in our products will always be successful, as we do not exercise complete control over the development efforts of our programmers, and we cannot be certain that our programmers have not used software that is subject to such licenses or that they will not do so in the future. In the event that portions of our proprietary technology are determined to be subject to licenses that require us to publicly release the affected portions of our source code, re-engineer a portion of our technologies, or otherwise be limited in the licensing of our technologies, we may be forced to do so, each of which could materially harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Failure to protect our intellectual property could substantially harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.

The success of our business depends on our ability to protect and enforce our patents, trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and all of our other intellectual property rights, including the intellectual property rights underlying our products and services. We attempt to protect our intellectual property under patent, trade secret, trademark, and copyright law through a combination of intellectual property registration, employee, third-party assignment and nondisclosure agreements, other contractual restrictions, technological measures, and other methods. These measures may only offer limited protection and, moreover, are constantly evolving to meet the expanding needs of our business. Despite our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy aspects of our product and brand features, make unauthorized use of original content we make available on our platform, or obtain and use our trade secrets and other confidential information. Moreover, policing our intellectual property rights is difficult and time-consuming. We cannot assure you that we would have adequate resources to protect and police our intellectual property rights, and we cannot assure you that the steps we take to do so will always be effective.

We have filed, and may in the future file, patent applications on certain of our innovations. It is possible, however, that these innovations may not be patentable. In addition, given the cost, effort, risks, and downside of obtaining patent protection, including the requirement to ultimately disclose the invention to the public, we may choose not to seek patent protection for some innovations. Furthermore, our patent applications may not issue as granted patents, the scope of the protection gained may be insufficient or an issued patent may be deemed invalid or unenforceable. We also cannot guarantee that any of our present or future patents or other intellectual property rights will not lapse or be invalidated, circumvented, challenged, or abandoned.

Neither can we guarantee that our intellectual property rights will provide competitive advantages to us. Our ability to assert our intellectual property rights against potential competitors or to settle current or future disputes could be limited by our relationships with third parties, and any of our pending or future patent applications may not have the scope of coverage originally sought. We cannot guarantee that our intellectual property rights will be enforced in jurisdictions where competition may be intense or where legal protection may be weak. We could lose both the ability to assert our intellectual property rights against, or to license our technology to, others and the ability to collect royalties or other payments. Certain countries’ legal systems do not provide the same level of support for the enforcement or protection of intellectual property rights as those of the United States, and as a result, our intellectual property and proprietary rights may be subject to theft without, or with little, legal recourse.

We currently own the www.spotify.com internet domain name and various other related domain names. Internet regulatory bodies generally regulate domain names. If we lose the ability to use a domain name in a particular country, we may be forced either to incur significant additional expenses to market our Service within that country or, in extreme cases, to elect not to offer our Service in that country. Either result could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. The
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regulation of domain names in the United States and in foreign countries is subject to change. Regulatory bodies could establish additional top-level domains, appoint additional domain name registrars, or modify the requirements for holding domain names. As a result, we may not be able to acquire or maintain the domain names that utilize our brand names in the United States or other countries in which we may conduct business in the future.

Litigation or proceedings before governmental authorities and administrative bodies may be necessary in the future to enforce our intellectual property rights, to protect our patent rights, trademarks, trade secrets, and domain names and to determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. Our efforts to enforce or protect our proprietary rights may be ineffective and could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management time, each of which could substantially harm our operating results. Additionally, changes in law may be implemented, or changes in interpretation of such laws may occur, that may affect our ability to protect and enforce our patents and other intellectual property.

Risks Related to Our Operations

Streaming depends on effectively working with operating systems, online platforms, hardware, networks, regulations, and standards we do not control. Changes in our products or services or those operating systems, hardware, networks, regulations, or standards, and our limitations on our ability to access those platforms, operating systems, hardware, or networks may seriously harm our business.

We rely on a variety of operating systems, online platforms, hardware, and networks to reach our users. These platforms range from desktop and mobile operating systems and application stores to wearables and intelligent voice assistants. The owners or operators of these platforms may not share our interests and may restrict our access to them or place conditions on access that would materially affect our ability to access those platforms. In particular, where the owner of a platform is also our direct competitor, the platform may attempt to use this position to affect our access to users and ability to compete. For example, an online platform might arbitrarily remove our products or services from its platform, deprive us of access to business critical data, or engage in other harmful practices. Online platforms also may unilaterally impose certain requirements that negatively affect our ability to convert users to the Premium Service, such as conditions that limit our freedom to communicate promotions and offers to our users. Similarly, online platforms may force us to use the platform’s payment processing systems that may be inferior to, and more costly than, other payment processing services available in the market. Online platforms frequently change the rules and requirements for services like ours to access the platform, and such changes may adversely affect the success or desirability of our service. To maintain certain elements of the service on a platform, we may need to make additional concessions to the platform operator that may adversely affect other aspects of the business or require us to invest significant expenses. Online platforms may limit our access to information about users, limiting our ability to convert and retain them. Online platforms also may deny access to application programming interfaces or documentation, limiting functionality of our products or services on the platform. In addition, if online platforms discontinue any log-in authentication services that our users use to access our products or services, we may lose and be unable to recover users previously using this function.

In March 2019, we filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission for engaging in certain behaviors that we believe are unlawful and anti-competitive. In June 2020, the European Commission opened a formal investigation into Apple’s conduct, and in April 2021, the European Commission issued a statement of objections to Apple with a preliminary view that its App Store rules disadvantaged competing music streaming services and distorted competition in the music streaming market by abusing its dominant position. We cannot assure you that the outcome of the process with the European Commission will be successfully resolved in our favor. In September 2020, we joined other app developer companies and organizations to form the Coalition for App Fairness with the goal of promoting app store principles that, among other things, address anti-competitive practices by platforms. We cannot assure you that those efforts will result in favorable outcomes.

Furthermore, devices providing access to our products and services are manufactured by a wide array of companies and we cannot guarantee that these devices perform reliably. Any faulty connection between these devices and our products and services may result in consumer dissatisfaction toward us, which could damage our brand. In addition, we have no control over the hardware or software of these devices and any changes to them may negatively impact our business. For example, changes to operating systems’ practices and policies, such as Apple’s ATT framework, have reduced and may continue to reduce the quantity and quality of the data and metrics that can be collected or used by us and our partners. These limitations have affected and may continue to adversely affect both our and our advertisers’ ability to effectively target advertisements and measure their performance, thereby reducing the demand or pricing for certain of our advertising products and harming our business.

Moreover, our Service requires high-bandwidth data capabilities. If the costs of data usage increase or access to data networks is limited, our business may be seriously harmed. Additionally, to deliver high-quality audio, video, and other content over networks, our Service must work well with a range of technologies, systems, networks, regulations, and standards that we do not control. In addition, the adoption of any laws or regulations that adversely affect the growth, popularity, or use of the internet, including laws governing internet neutrality, could decrease the demand for our Service and increase our cost of doing
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business. For example, in December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”) voted to repeal prior “open internet rules,” which included bright-line provisions prohibiting internet service providers from blocking lawful internet content, throttling such content, or engaging in paid prioritization, as well as a general conduct standard barring such providers from unreasonably interfering with or disadvantaging online content providers’ access to end users and end users’ access to online content, and directing providers to rely instead on disclosure obligations backed by Federal Trade Commission enforcement. Several states have imposed their own open internet protections modeled on the repealed bright-line provisions, although internet service providers have filed lawsuits challenging such measures, and additional challenges are likely. Similarly, the European Union (the “EU”) currently requires equal access to internet content, but as part of the EU’s Digital Single Market initiative and the implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code at the national level, EU Member States may impose network security and disability access obligations on “over-the-top” services such as those provided by us. If the FCC does not reinstate open internet rules beyond disclosure requirements and state laws fail to provide comparable protections, or if the EU modifies its own open internet rules, broadband service providers may be able to limit our users’ ability to access Spotify or make Spotify a less attractive alternative to our competitors’ applications, and our business, operating results, and financial condition would be seriously harmed.

We may not successfully cultivate relationships with key industry participants or comply with the requirements of various operating systems, online platforms, hardware, networks, regulations, and standards on which our products and services depend, and failure to do so could result in serious harm to our business and user retention, growth, and engagement.

Failure to maintain the security of data relating to our users could result in civil liability, statutory fines, regulatory enforcement, and the loss of confidence in us by our users, advertisers, content providers, and other business partners, all of which could harm our business.

Techniques used to gain unauthorized access to data and software are constantly evolving, and we may be unable to anticipate or prevent unauthorized access to data pertaining to our users, including credit card and debit card information and other personal data about our users, business partners, and employees. Our products and services, which are supported by our own systems and those of third parties that we work with, are vulnerable to software bugs, traditional computer “hackers,” malicious code (such as malware, viruses, internet worms, and ransomware), employee theft, malfeasance, break-ins, misuse or error, phishing, password spraying, and credential stuffing attacks, attempts to overload servers with denial-of-service or other attacks, and similar disruptions from unauthorized use of our and third-party computer systems, any of which could cause loss of critical data or unauthorized access to personal data. In addition to these "traditional" threats, we also face threats from sophisticated organized crime, nation-state, and nation-state supported actors who engage in attacks (including advanced persistent threat intrusions) that add to the risks to our internal systems and the systems of the third parties we work with. Third parties have in the past and may in the future attempt to fraudulently induce employees, users, or organizations into disclosing sensitive information, such as user names, passwords, or other information, or otherwise compromise the security of our internal electronic systems, networks, and/or physical facilities in order to gain access to our data, which could result in significant legal and financial exposure, a loss of confidence in our security, interruptions or malfunctions in our operations, and, ultimately, harm to our future business prospects and revenue. Security issues have in the past, and may in the future, arise in cases where our personnel, agents, or processors fail to follow our policies or otherwise act inappropriately.

Computer malware, viruses, and computer hacking, credential stuffing and phishing attacks have occurred on our systems in the past and may occur on our systems in the future. Because of our prominence, we believe that we are a particularly attractive target for such attacks. Moreover, our recently adopted Work from Anywhere program may impact our ability to protect against cyber incidents as our workforce will now be connected from a mix of physical office space and home options. We cannot assure you that the systems and processes that we have designed to protect our data and our users’ data, to prevent data loss, to disable undesirable accounts and activities on our platform, and to prevent or detect security breaches, will provide absolute security, and we may incur significant costs in protecting against or remediating cyber-attacks.

If an actual or perceived breach of security occurs to our systems or a third party’s systems, we may face actions against us by governmental entities (in particular given the White House, SEC, and other regulators' recent increased focus on companies' cybersecurity vulnerabilities and risks), data protection authorities, consumers, or others that could result in enforcement, litigation and financial losses, and the public perception of our security measures could be diminished and our reputation harmed, all of which would negatively affect our ability to attract and retain users, which in turn would harm our efforts to attract and retain advertisers, content providers, and other business partners. We would also have to expend significant resources to mitigate the breach and upgrade our security systems, and in most cases notify affected users and relevant data protection and regulatory authorities. In addition, any losses, costs or liabilities may not be covered by, or may exceed the coverage limits of, any or all of our applicable insurance policies. A data breach by service providers that are acting as our data processors (i.e., processing personal data on our behalf) would raise similar risks and obligations. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition and could cause our stock price to drop significantly.

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Our products are highly technical and may contain undetected errors, bugs, or vulnerabilities, which could manifest in ways that could seriously harm our reputation and our business.

Many of the products we offer are highly technical and complex. These products or any other product we may introduce in the future may contain undetected hardware errors, software bugs, and other vulnerabilities. These errors, bugs, and vulnerabilities can manifest in any number of ways in our products, including through diminished performance, security incidents, malfunctions, service disruptions, or even permanently disabled products. We have a practice of rapidly updating our products, and as a result some errors, bugs, or vulnerabilities in our products may be discovered only after a product has been used, and may in some cases be detected only under certain circumstances or after extended use. Additionally, many of our products are available on multiple operating systems and/or multiple devices offered by different manufacturers, and changes or updates to such operating systems or devices may cause errors or functionality problems in our products, including rendering our products inoperable by some users. Our products operate in conjunction with, and we are dependent upon, third-party products and services, and any error or bug in one of these third-party products or services could thwart our users’ ability to access our products and services, present a security vulnerability, and harm our reputation. Additionally, any errors, bugs, or other vulnerabilities discovered in our code or backend after release could damage our reputation, drive away users, allow third parties to manipulate or exploit our software, lower revenue, impact the stability or accuracy of our user metrics or other estimates, and expose us to claims for damages, any of which could seriously harm our business. See “Risks Related to Our Metrics—Failure to effectively manage and remediate attempts to gain or provide unauthorized access to certain features of our Service could have an adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.” Additionally, errors, bugs, or other vulnerabilities may—either directly or if exploited by third parties—affect our ability to make accurate royalty payments. See “Risks Related to Securing the Rights to the Content We Stream—Our royalty payment scheme is complex, and it is difficult to estimate the amount payable under our license agreements or relevant statutes.”

We could also face claims for product liability, tort, or breach of warranty. Defending a lawsuit, regardless of its merit, is costly and may divert management’s attention and seriously harm our reputation and our business. In addition, if our liability insurance coverage proves inadequate or future coverage is unavailable on acceptable terms or at all, our business could be seriously harmed.

Interruptions, delays, or discontinuations in service arising from our own systems or from third parties could harm our business.

We have experienced, and may in the future experience, periodic service interruptions and delays involving our own systems and those of third parties that we work with. For instance, Google Cloud Platform (“GCP”) provides a distributed computing infrastructure platform for business operations, or what is commonly referred to as a cloud computing service. We have designed our software and computer systems to utilize data processing, storage capabilities, and other services provided by GCP, currently rely on GCP for the vast majority of our primary data storage (including personal data of users and audio data licensed from rights holders) and computing, and any transition of our GCP operations to another cloud provider would incur significant time and expense. Both our own systems and those of third parties are vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, floods, fires, power loss, telecommunications failures, and similar events. Global climate change could result in certain types of natural disasters occurring more frequently or with more intense effects. They are also subject to break-ins, sabotage, intentional acts of vandalism, the failure of physical, administrative, technical, and cyber security measures, terrorist acts, natural disasters, human error, the financial insolvency of third parties that we work with, global pandemics and other public health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and other unanticipated problems or events. The occurrence of any of these events could result in interruptions in our services and unauthorized access to, or alteration of, the content and data contained in our systems or stored by third parties and delivered on our behalf.

Any disruption in the services provided by these third parties could materially adversely impact our business reputation, customer relations, and operating results. Upon expiration or termination of any of our agreements with third parties, we may not be able to replace the services provided to us in a timely manner or on terms and conditions, including service levels and cost, that are favorable to us, and a transition from one third party to another could subject us to operational delays and inefficiencies until the transition is complete.

Our business is subject to complex and evolving laws and regulations around the world. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, increased cost of operations, or otherwise harm our business.

We are an international company that is registered under the laws of Luxembourg, with offices and/or operations in 184 countries and territories around the world. As a result of this organizational structure and the scope of our operations, we are subject to a variety of laws and regulations in different countries that involve matters central to our business, including privacy, data protection, content, intellectual property, advertising and marketing, competition, protection of minors, consumer protection, automatic subscription renewals, credit card processing, foreign exchange controls, and taxation. These laws and
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regulations may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent from country to country and inconsistent with our current policies and practices and in ways that could harm our business, particularly in the new and rapidly evolving industry in which we operate. Additionally, the introduction of new products or services, expansion of our activities in certain jurisdictions, entry into new jurisdictions, or other actions that we may take may subject us to additional laws and regulations. These laws and regulations, as well as any associated claims, inquiries, or other government actions, may subject us to increased operating costs, delays or impediments in our business activities, diversion of management time and attention, and remedies that harm our business, including fines or demands or orders that we modify or cease existing business practices.

The adoption or modification of laws or regulations relating to the internet or other areas of our business could limit or otherwise adversely affect the manner in which we currently conduct our business. For example, based on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, EU Member States are implementing new rules on copyright protection, including rules on fair remuneration for use of copyrighted content and obligations on online content-sharing service providers, which could also impact our costs or the conditions for users to access licensed content. In the United States, the protections from legal liability for content moderation decisions and third-party content posted on online platforms that are currently available to online platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act could change or decrease over the next few years. This could result in increased liability for content moderation decisions and third-party content posted on our Service and higher litigation costs. Certain jurisdictions have implemented or are contemplating implementing laws that may negatively impact our automatic renewal structure or our free or discounted trial incentives. Additionally, in Europe, a number of regulatory initiatives that have been proposed to tackle the way platforms and digital services providers operate could generate operational and technical costs of compliance, including the pending Digital Services Act, which, among other requirements, sets forth rules on the removal of illegal content and on transparency and reporting. Further, compliance with laws, regulations, and other requirements imposed upon our business may be onerous and expensive, and they may be inconsistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, further increasing the cost of compliance and doing business.

Additionally, under the terms of a withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU, the United Kingdom formally left the EU on January 31, 2020, and on January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom left the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as well as all EU policies and international agreements. On December 24, 2020, the European Commission reached a trade agreement with the United Kingdom on the terms of its future cooperation with the EU (the “Trade Agreement”). Although we cannot predict the impact that the Trade Agreement and any future agreements on services will have on our business, it is possible that new terms, as well as the continued uncertainty related to Brexit, may adversely affect consumer confidence and the level of consumer purchases of discretionary items, including our Service. Any such effect could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Various existing, new, and changing laws and regulations as well as self-regulation and public concern related to privacy and data security pose the threat of lawsuits, regulatory fines, other liability and reputational harm, require us to expend significant resources, and may harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.

As we collect and utilize personal data about our users as they interact with our products and services, we are subject to new and existing laws and regulations that govern our use of user data. We are likely to be required to expend significant capital to ensure ongoing compliance with these laws and regulations. Claims or allegations that we have violated laws and regulations relating to privacy and data security could result in negative publicity and a loss of confidence in us by our users and our partners. We may be required to make significant expenditures to resolve such claims, which may include paying monetary damages, financial settlements, and/or fines or other penalties, including by government and data protection authorities.

We are subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which came into effect in May 2018 and imposes stringent operational requirements regarding, among others, data use, sharing and processing, data breach notifications, data subject rights, and cross-border data transfers for entities collecting and/or processing personal data of EU residents and significant penalties for non-compliance (up to EUR 20 million or up to 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher). Following the United Kingdom’s (“UK”) departure from the European Union and the expiry of the transition period, we are subject to UK data protection law, which imposes obligations and penalties similar to the GDPR. We are also subject to Directive 2002/58 on Privacy and Electronic Communications (the “ePrivacy Directive”), which requires entities to obtain informed and freely given consent for the placement of cookies and similar technologies on a user’s device. We are also subject to Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (“LGPD”), which went into effect in September 2020, and that imposes similar requirements to GDPR on the collection and processing of data of Brazilian residents, as well as penalties for non-compliance (up to 2% of the Brazil-sourced income for the preceding financial year, limited to approximately $11 million per infraction, with the possibility of a daily fine to compel the cessation of violations). We are also subject to the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), which came into effect in January 2020 and imposes heightened transparency obligations, adds restrictions on the “sale” of personal information, and creates new data privacy rights for California residents and carries significant enforcement penalties for non-compliance (up to $7,500 per intentional violation
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and $2,500 per other violation). California consumers also have a private right of action under the CCPA with respect to certain data breaches and can recover civil damages of up to $750 per incident, per consumer or actual damages, whichever is greater.

We rely on data transfer mechanisms permitted under the GDPR and UK regime, including the Standard Contractual Clauses. Recent European case law and regulatory guidance have imposed additional requirements when relying on the Standard Contractual Clauses, including requiring the use of the substantively updated version for transfers from the EU that was issued by the European Commission in June 2021. Ensuring we can continue to transfer E.U. personal data outside of the European Economic Area (and UK personal data outside of the UK) in compliance with new regulatory guidance, judicial decisions, and legislative developments may require us to expend significant resources.

New laws, amendments to, or reinterpretations of existing laws, rules of self-regulatory bodies, industry standards, and contractual obligations, as well as changes in our users’ expectations and demands regarding privacy and data security, may require that we expend considerable resources to meet these requirements and may limit our ability to collect, use, and disclose, and to leverage and derive economic value from user data. Restrictions on our ability to collect, access and harness user data, or to use or disclose user data, may require us to expend significant resources to adapt to these changes, and would in turn limit our ability to stream personalized content to our users and offer advertising and promotional opportunities to users on the Service.

The regulatory framework for privacy issues worldwide is currently in flux and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Our business, including our ability to operate and expand internationally, could be adversely affected if legislation or regulations are adopted, interpreted, or implemented in a manner that is inconsistent with our current business practices and that require changes to these practices, the design of our website, services, features, or our privacy policy.

We have incurred, and will continue to incur, expenses to comply with privacy and security standards and protocols imposed by law, regulation, self-regulatory bodies, industry standards, and contractual obligations. Actual or perceived failure to comply with privacy laws has in the past and could in the future result in regulatory or governmental investigations. It could also result in enforcement actions requiring us to change the way we use personal data, restrictions on how we use personal data, significant regulatory fines, or litigation. In addition to statutory enforcement, a data breach has in the past and could in the future lead to compensation claims by affected individuals (including consumer advocacy groups). It could also lead to negative publicity and a potential loss of business as a result of customers losing trust in us. Such failures could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and operations.

Our business depends on a strong brand, and any failure to maintain, protect, and enhance our brand could harm our business.

We have developed a strong brand that we believe has contributed significantly to the success of our business. Maintaining, protecting, and enhancing the “Spotify” brand is critical to expanding our base of users and advertisers, as well as continuing to attract creators, and will depend largely on our ability to continue to provide useful, reliable, trustworthy, and innovative products and services, which we may not do successfully. We may introduce new products, services, features, content, or terms of service that our users, creators, advertisers, or partners do not like, which may negatively affect our brand. Our brand may be impaired by a number of other factors, including a decline in the quality or quantity of the content available on our Service, product or technical performance failures, or other reputational issues. Our brand may also be negatively affected by content on our platform that our users find objectionable, the use of our products or services to create or disseminate content that is deemed to be misleading or intended to manipulate opinions, perceived or actual efforts by governments to censor certain content on our platform, the use of our products for illicit, objectionable, or illegal ends, or our failure to respond appropriately to such uses of our products and services or to otherwise adequately address user concerns. Additionally, the actions of our developers, advertisers, and content partners may affect our brand if users do not have a positive experience using third-party applications or websites integrated with Spotify or that make use of Spotify content or brand features. If we fail to successfully maintain a strong brand, our business could be harmed.

If we are unable to maintain the growth of our Ad-Supported Users and Premium Subscribers, we may be required to expend greater resources than we currently spend on advertising, marketing, and other brand-building efforts to preserve and enhance consumer awareness of our brand, which would adversely affect our operating results and may not be effective.

Additionally, we receive a high degree of media coverage around the world. Unfavorable publicity regarding, for example, relationship with record labels, publishers, artists, and other copyright owners, content on our Service, our privacy practices, terms of service, service changes, service quality, litigation or regulatory activity, government surveillance, employee matters, the actions of our advertisers or strategic partners, the actions of our developers whose services are integrated with our products or services, the actions of our users, or the actions of other companies that provide similar services to us, could materially adversely affect our reputation and brand. Such negative publicity also could have an adverse effect on the size,
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engagement, and loyalty of our user base and result in decreased revenue, which could materially adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

We may not be able to achieve our net zero emissions target or make progress in other environmental, social, and governance initiatives.

In late 2021, we announced our intention to reach net zero emissions within the next decade through a variety of ways. We also joined the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign as a first step on our climate action journey. Our estimates concerning the timing and cost of implementing our targets are subject to risks and uncertainties, and there can be no assurances that our commitments will be achieved.

We have also elected to share publicly our corporate environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) initiatives in our annual Sustainability, Equity and Impact Reports. Our business may face increased scrutiny related to these activities, including from the investment community, and our failure to make progress in these areas on a timely basis, or at all, could adversely affect our brand and reputation. Although we expect that our commitment to ESG-based values will improve our financial performance over the long term, these decisions may not be consistent with the expectations of investors and any longer-term benefits may not materialize within the time frame we expect or at all, which could harm our business, revenue and financial results.

We are subject to payments-related risks.

We accept payments using a variety of methods, including credit and debit card transactions. For credit and debit card payments, we pay interchange and other transaction fees, which may increase over time. An increase in those fees would require us to either increase the prices we charge for our Premium Service, which could cause us to lose Premium Subscribers and subscription revenue, or suffer an increase in our costs without a corresponding increase in the price we charge for our Premium Service, either of which could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. We rely on third-party service providers for payment processing services, including the processing of credit and debit cards. In particular, we rely on two third-party service providers, Adyen and PayPal (including Braintree), for the vast majority of our payment processing. Our business could be materially disrupted if these third-party service providers become unwilling or unable to provide these services to us. If we or our service providers for payment processing services have problems with our billing software, or the billing software malfunctions, it could have a material adverse effect on our user satisfaction and could cause one or more of the major credit card companies to disallow our continued use of their payment products. In addition, if our billing software fails to work properly and, as a result, we do not automatically charge our Premium Subscribers’ credit cards on a timely basis or at all, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be materially adversely affected.

We are also subject to payment card association operating rules, certification requirements, and rules governing electronic funds transfers, including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard v3.2.1, which could change or be reinterpreted to make it more difficult for us to comply. Any failure to comply with these rules or requirements may subject us to higher transaction fees, fines, penalties, damages, and civil liability, and may result in the loss of our ability to accept credit and debit card payments. Further, there is no guarantee that, even if we are in compliance with such rules or requirements, such compliance will prevent illegal or improper use of our payment systems or the theft, loss, or misuse of data pertaining to credit and debit cards, credit and debit card holders, and credit and debit card transactions. Certain payment card associations have proposed additional requirements for trial offers for automatic renewal subscription services, which may hinder our ability to attract or retain Premium Subscribers.

If we fail to adequately control fraudulent credit card transactions, we may face civil liability, diminished public perception of our security measures, and significantly higher credit card-related costs, each of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations. If we are unable to maintain our chargeback rate or refund rates at acceptable levels, credit card and debit card companies may increase our transaction fees or terminate their relationships with us. The termination of our ability to process payments on any major credit or debit card would significantly impair our ability to operate our business.

We also accept payments through various payment solution providers, such as telco integrated billings and prepaid codes vendors. These payment solution providers provide services to us in exchange for a fee, which may be subject to change. Furthermore, we rely on their accurate and timely reports on sales and redemptions. If such accurate and timely reports are not being provided, it will affect the accuracy of our reports to our licensors, and also affect the accuracy of our financial reporting.

We depend on highly skilled key personnel to operate our business, and if we are unable to attract, retain, and motivate qualified personnel, our ability to develop and successfully grow our business could be harmed.

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We depend on the continued services and performance of our key personnel, including our Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Ek, members of our executive team, and other key employees, such as key engineering, finance, research and development, marketing, and sales personnel. All of our employees, including our senior management, are free to terminate their employment relationship with us at any time, and their knowledge of our business and industry may be difficult to replace. We believe that our key executives have developed highly successful and effective working relationships. If one or more of these individuals leave, we may not be able to fully integrate new executives or replicate the current dynamic, and working relationships that have developed among our senior management and other key personnel, and our operations could suffer.

Our future success depends on our continuing ability to attract, develop, motivate, and retain highly qualified and skilled employees. In particular, we intend to continue to hire a significant number of personnel in the foreseeable future and may face challenges in hiring such personnel. Qualified individuals are in high demand, particularly in the digital media industry, and we may incur significant costs to attract them. We use equity awards to attract talented employees. If the value of our ordinary shares declines significantly and remains depressed, that may prevent us from recruiting and retaining qualified employees. Our ability to attract, retain, and motivate employees may also be adversely affected by stock price volatility.

If we fail to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, our ability to accurately and timely report our financial results could be adversely affected.

We are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in those controls. If we identify future material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting or fail to meet our obligations as a public company, including the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”), we may be unable to accurately report our financial results, or report them within the timeframes required by law or stock exchange regulations, and we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, which would cause the price of our ordinary shares to decline. Under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we are required to evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and provide a management report as to internal control over financial reporting. Failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting also could potentially subject us to sanctions or investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”), or other regulatory authorities, or shareholder lawsuits, which could require additional financial and management resources.

We may require additional capital to support business growth and objectives, and this capital might not be available on acceptable terms, if at all.

We intend to continue to make investments to support our business growth and may require additional funds to respond to business challenges, including the need to develop new features or enhance our existing products or services, expand into additional markets around the world, improve our infrastructure, or acquire complementary businesses and technologies. Accordingly, we have in the past engaged, and may in the future engage, in equity and debt financings to secure additional funds. If we raise additional funds through future issuances of equity or convertible debt securities, our existing shareholders could suffer significant dilution, and any new equity securities we issue could have rights, preferences, and privileges superior to those of holders of our ordinary shares. Any debt financing we secure in the future could also contain restrictive covenants relating to our capital-raising activities and other financial and operational matters, which may make it more difficult for us to obtain additional capital and pursue business opportunities, including potential acquisitions. If we are unable to obtain adequate financing or financing on terms satisfactory to us, our ability to continue to support our business growth, acquire or retain users, and to respond to business challenges could be significantly impaired, and our business may be harmed.

If currency exchange rates fluctuate substantially in the future, the results of our operations, which are reported in Euros, could be adversely affected.

Our international operations expose us to the effects of fluctuations in currency exchange rates. We incur expenses for employee compensation, property leases, and other operating expenses in the local currency, and an increasing percentage of our international revenue is from users who pay us in currencies other than U.S. dollars and Euros, including the Swedish Krona, the Australian dollar, and the British Pound Sterling. In addition, while we incur royalty expenses primarily in U.S. dollars and Euros, the corresponding revenues are being generated in local currencies and, as such, the multiple currency conversions will be affected by currency fluctuations, which may result in losses to us. Fluctuations in the exchange rates between the Euro and other currencies may impact expenses as well as revenue, and consequently have an impact on margin and the reported operating results. This could have a negative impact on our reported operating results. To date, we have engaged in limited hedging strategies related to foreign exchange risk stemming from our operations. These strategies include instruments such as foreign exchange forward contracts and options. However, these strategies should not be expected to fully eliminate the foreign exchange rate risk that we are exposed to.

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The impact of worldwide economic conditions may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Our financial performance is subject to worldwide economic conditions and their impact on levels of advertising spending. Expenditures by advertisers generally tend to reflect overall economic conditions, and reductions in spending by advertisers could have a material adverse impact on our business.

Economic conditions may adversely impact levels of consumer spending, which could adversely impact the number of users who purchase our Premium Service on our website and mobile application. Consumer purchases of discretionary items generally decline during recessionary periods and other periods in which disposable income is adversely affected. To the extent that overall economic conditions reduce spending on discretionary activities, our ability to retain current and obtain new Premium Subscribers could be hindered, which could reduce our subscription revenue and negatively impact our business. For example, the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected, and could adversely affect in the future, the levels of advertising spending and consumer spending on discretionary items, which in turn adversely affect our ad sales and Subscriber revenue. See “Risks Related to Our Business Model, Strategy, and Performance—The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and could continue to have, an adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.”

Risks Related to Our Metrics

Our user metrics and other estimates are subject to inherent challenges in measurement, and real or perceived inaccuracies in those metrics may seriously harm and negatively affect our reputation and our business.

We regularly review key metrics related to the operation of our business, including, but not limited to, our monthly active users (“MAUs”), Ad-Supported MAUs, Premium average revenue per user (“ARPU”), and Premium Subscribers, to evaluate growth trends, measure our performance, and make strategic decisions. These metrics are calculated using internal company data and have not been validated by an independent third party. While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our user base for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring how our Service is used across large populations globally. For example, we believe that while there are individuals who have multiple Spotify accounts, which we treat as multiple users for purposes of calculating our active users, there are also Spotify accounts that are used by more than one person. Accordingly, the calculations of our active users may not reflect the actual number of people using our Service. The methodologies used to measure our key metrics require significant judgment and design inputs as well as technical tools that are susceptible to human error, technical errors, bugs, or other vulnerabilities, including those in hardware devices, operating systems, or other third-party products or services on which our Service relies. In addition, we are continually seeking to improve our estimates of our user base, and such estimates may change due to improvements or changes in our methodology, including improvements in our ability to identify and/or address previously undetected undesirable user behaviors. We cannot assure you that our efforts to improve our estimates of user base and to identify and/or address undesirable user behaviors will be successful, and these efforts could result in the removal of certain user accounts and/or a reduction in MAUs or other metrics.

Errors or inaccuracies in our metrics or data could result in incorrect business decisions and inefficiencies, including expending resources to implement unnecessary business measures or failing to take required actions to attract a sufficient number of users to satisfy our growth strategies.

In addition, advertisers generally rely on third-party measurement services to calculate metrics related to our advertising business, and these third-party measurement services may not reflect our true audience. Some of our demographic data also may be incomplete or inaccurate because users self-report their names and dates of birth or because we receive them from other third parties. Consequently, the personal data we have may differ from our users’ actual names and ages. If advertisers, partners, or investors do not perceive our user, geographic, or other demographic metrics to be accurate representations of our user base, or if we discover material inaccuracies in our user, geographic, or other demographic metrics, our reputation may be seriously harmed.

Failure to effectively manage and remediate attempted stream manipulation could have an adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

We have in the past been, and continue to be, impacted by attempts by third parties to artificially manipulate stream counts. Such attempts may, for example, be designed to generate revenue for content providers and/or rights holders or to influence placement of content on Spotify-created playlists or industry charts. Attempted stream manipulation may involve creating non-bona fide user accounts or content or using compromised passwords to access legitimate user accounts. For example, we have detected instances of botnet operators creating non-bona fide user accounts or hackers using passwords compromised as a result of a data breach on a non-Spotify service to access legitimate user accounts and streaming specific content repeatedly, thereby generating royalties each time the content is streamed or increasing its visibility on our or third-
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party charts. We use a combination of algorithms and manual review by employees to detect artificial streams and aim to remove non-bona fide user accounts created for the above purposes and filter them out from our metrics on an ongoing basis, as well as to require users to reset passwords that we suspect have been compromised. However, we may not be successful in detecting, removing, and addressing all artificial streams and any related user accounts. If we fail to successfully detect, remove, and address artificial streams and associated user accounts, it may result in the manipulation of our data, including the key performance indicators, which underlie, among other things, our contractual obligations with rights holders and advertisers (which could expose us to the risk of litigation), as well as harm our relationships with rights holders and advertisers. In addition, once we detect and mitigate artificial streams and associated user accounts, this may result in the removal of certain user accounts and/or a reduction in account activity, which may affect key performance indicators and undermine investor confidence in the integrity of our key performance indicators. These could have a material adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Failure to effectively manage and remediate attempts to gain or provide unauthorized access to certain features of our Service could have an adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

We have in the past been, and continue to be, impacted by attempts by third parties to manipulate or exploit our software for the purpose of gaining or providing unauthorized access to certain features of our Service. For example, we have detected instances of third parties seeking to provide mobile device users a means to suppress advertisements without payment and gain access to features only available to the Ad-Supported Service on tablets and desktop computers. If we fail to successfully detect and address such issues, it may adversely affect our contractual obligations and relationships with rights holders and advertisers (which could expose us to the risk of litigation), and harm our business, operating results, and financial condition. The discovery or development of any new method to gain unauthorized access to certain features of our service, such as through the exploitation of software vulnerabilities, and the sharing of any such method among third parties, may increase the level of unauthorized access (and the attendant negative financial impact described above). We cannot assure you we will be successful in finding ways to effectively address unauthorized access achieved through any such method. Additionally, Ad-Supported Users using unauthorized versions of our application may be less likely to convert to Premium Subscribers. Moreover, once we detect and disable such unauthorized access, this may result in the removal of certain user accounts and/or a reduction in account activity, which may affect our key performance indicators and could undermine investor confidence in the integrity of our key performance indicators. These could have a material adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Risks Related to Our Indebtedness

Our indebtedness and liabilities could limit the cash flow available for our operations, expose us to risks that could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, and impair our ability to satisfy our obligations under the Exchangeable Notes.

As of December 31, 2021, we had $1,500 million principal amount of indebtedness as a result of the 0% Exchangeable Senior Notes due 2026 (“Exchangeable Notes”) offering. We may also incur additional indebtedness to meet future financing needs. Our indebtedness could have significant negative consequences for our shareholders and our business, results of operations, and financial condition by, among other things:

•    increasing our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions;
•    limiting our ability to obtain additional financing;
•    requiring the dedication of a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to service our indebtedness, which will reduce the amount of cash available for other purposes;
•    limiting our flexibility to plan for, or react to, changes in our business;
•    diluting the interests of our existing shareholders as a result of issuing ordinary shares upon exchange of the Exchangeable Notes; and
•    placing us at a possible competitive disadvantage with competitors that are less leveraged than us or have better access to capital.

Our business may not generate sufficient funds, and we may otherwise be unable to maintain sufficient cash reserves, to pay amounts due under our indebtedness, including the Exchangeable Notes, and our cash needs may increase in the future. In addition, future indebtedness that we may incur may contain financial and other restrictive covenants that limit our ability to operate our business, raise capital, or make payments under our other indebtedness. If we fail to comply with these covenants or to make payments under our indebtedness when due, we would be in default under that indebtedness, which could, in turn, result in that and our other indebtedness becoming immediately payable in full.

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We may be unable to raise the funds necessary to repurchase the Exchangeable Notes for cash following certain fundamental change as set forth in the Indenture, or to pay any cash amounts due upon exchange, and our future indebtedness may limit our ability to repurchase the Exchangeable Notes or pay cash upon their exchange.

Holders of the Exchangeable Notes may, subject to a limited exception under the Indenture, require us to repurchase their Exchangeable Notes following certain fundamental change under the Indenture at a cash repurchase price generally equal to the principal amount of the Exchangeable Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid special and additional interest, if any. In addition, upon exchange, we will satisfy part or all of our exchange obligation in cash unless we elect to settle exchanges solely in ordinary shares. We may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to repurchase the Exchangeable Notes or pay any cash amounts due upon exchange. In addition, applicable law, regulatory authorities, and the agreements governing our future indebtedness may restrict our ability to repurchase the Exchangeable Notes or pay any cash amounts due upon exchange. Our failure to repurchase the Exchangeable Notes or pay any cash amounts due upon exchange when required will constitute a default under the Indenture. A default under the Indenture or the fundamental change itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our future indebtedness, which may result in that future indebtedness becoming immediately payable in full. We may not have sufficient funds to satisfy all amounts due under the future indebtedness and the Exchangeable Notes.

Provisions in the Indenture could delay or prevent an otherwise beneficial takeover of us.

Certain provisions in the Exchangeable Notes and the Indenture could make it more difficult or expensive for a third party who attempts to acquire us. For example, if a takeover constitutes a fundamental change, then noteholders will have the right to require us to repurchase their Exchangeable Notes for cash. In addition, if a takeover constitutes a make-whole fundamental change, then we may be required to temporarily increase the exchange rate. In either case, and in other cases, our obligations under the Exchangeable Notes and the Indenture could increase the cost of acquiring us or otherwise discourage a third party from acquiring us or removing incumbent management, including in a transaction that holders of ordinary shares may view as favorable.

The accounting method for the Exchangeable Notes could adversely affect our reported financial condition and results.

The Exchangeable Notes have been designated at fair value through profit and loss using the fair value option in accordance with IFRS. Under this treatment, the exchange feature contained in the Exchangeable Notes is reflected in the overall fair value of the Exchangeable Notes, which is marked-to-market at the end of each reporting period. For each financial statement period while the Exchangeable Notes remain outstanding, a gain or loss will be reported in our consolidated statement of operations to the extent the fair value changes from the end of the previous period, except that changes in fair value that are due to changes in own credit risk will be presented separately in other comprehensive income. The gains and losses relating to the Exchangeable Notes may be significant. Accordingly, this accounting treatment may subject our reported net income (loss) and our financial position to significant variability. Furthermore, if a fundamental change occurs, we may be required in accordance with IFRS to reclassify the carrying value of the Exchangeable Notes as a current, rather than a non-current, liability. This reclassification could be necessary even if no noteholder actually requires us to repurchase their Exchangeable Notes and could materially reduce our reported working capital. Amendments to International Accounting Standard (“IAS”) 1, which is expected to become effective during the term of the Exchangeable Notes, would also require us to reclassify the Exchangeable Notes as a current liability if the exchange conditions are met, even if no noteholder actually requires us to exchange their notes.

Risks Related to Tax

We are a multinational company that faces complex taxation regimes in various jurisdictions. Audits, investigations, and tax proceedings could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, and financial condition.

We are subject to income and non-income taxes in numerous jurisdictions. Income tax accounting often involves complex issues, and judgment is required in determining our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities. In particular, most of the jurisdictions in which we conduct business have detailed transfer pricing rules, which require that all transactions with non-resident related parties be priced using arm’s length pricing principles within the meaning of such rules. We are subject to ongoing tax audits in several jurisdictions, and most of such audits involve transfer pricing issues. We regularly assess the likely outcomes of these audits in order to determine the appropriateness of our tax reserves as well as tax liabilities going forward. We have initiated and are in negotiations of an Advance Pricing Agreement between Sweden and the United States governments for tax years 2014 through 2020 covering various transfer pricing matters. These transfer pricing matters may be significant to our consolidated financial statements. We believe that our tax positions, including our assumptions, judgments, and estimates within, are reasonable. However, tax authorities in certain jurisdictions may disagree with our position, including any judgements or estimates used. If any of these tax authorities were successful in challenging our
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positions, we may be liable for additional income tax and penalties and interest related thereto in excess of any reserves established therefor, which may have a significant impact on our results and operations and future cash flow.

We may not be able to utilize all, or any, of our net operating loss carry-forwards.

We have significant net operating loss carry-forwards in Sweden and the United States. As of December 31, 2021, we had net operating loss carry-forwards of €80 million in Luxembourg, €1,226 million in Sweden, €316 million in the United States relating to federal taxes, and €214 million in the United States relating to state taxes. In certain jurisdictions, if we are unable to earn sufficient income or profits to utilize such carry-forwards before they expire, they will no longer be available to offset future income or profits.

In Sweden, utilization of these net operating loss carry-forwards may be subject to a substantial annual limitation or elimination in full or part if there is an ownership or control change within the meaning of Chapter 40, paragraphs 10-14 of the Swedish Income Tax Act. In general, an ownership or control change, as defined by the Swedish Income Tax Act, results from a transaction or series of transactions over a five-year period resulting in an ownership or control change of a company by certain categories or individuals, businesses or organizations. The treatment of the issuance of the beneficiary certificates in February 2018 is unclear under the Swedish Income Tax Act and there is a risk that such issuance may have constituted an ownership or control change, as defined by the Swedish Income Tax Act. If our issuance of the beneficiary certificates were to be deemed to have constituted an ownership or control change, our ability to use our net operating loss carry-forwards may be limited or eliminated.

In addition, in the United States, utilization of these net operating loss carry-forwards may be subject to a substantial annual limitation if there is an ownership change within the meaning of Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code (“Section 382”). In general, an ownership change, as defined by Section 382, results from a transaction or series of transactions over a three-year period resulting in an ownership change of more than 50% of the outstanding stock of a company by certain stockholders or public groups. Since our formation, we have raised capital through the issuance of capital stock on several occasions, and we may continue to do so in the future, which, combined with current or future shareholders’ disposition of ordinary shares, may have resulted in such an ownership change. Such an ownership change may limit the amount of net operating loss carry-forwards that can be utilized to offset future taxable income.

If the fair market value of our ordinary shares fluctuates significantly on a quarterly basis, the social costs we accrue for share-based compensation will also fluctuate significantly, which could result in our failing to meet our expectations or investor expectations for quarterly financial performance. This could negatively impact investor sentiment for the Company, and as a result, adversely impact the price of our ordinary shares.

Social costs are payroll taxes associated with employee salaries and benefits, including share-based compensation that we are subject to in various countries in which we operate. This is not a withholding tax. For the year ended December 31, 2021, we recorded a social cost benefit related to share-based compensation of €32 million compared to a €168 million expense for the year ended December 31, 2020.

When the fair market value of our ordinary shares increases on a quarter-to-quarter basis, the accrued expense for social costs will increase, and when the fair market value of ordinary shares falls, the accrued expense will become a reduction in social costs expense, all other things being equal, including the number of vested stock options and exercise price remaining constant. The fair market value of our ordinary shares has been and will likely continue to be volatile. See “—Risks Related to Owning Our Ordinary Shares—The trading price of our ordinary shares has been and will likely continue to be volatile.” As a result, the accrued expense for social costs may fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter, which could result in our failing to meet our expectations or investor expectations for quarterly financial performance. This could negatively impact investor sentiment for the Company, and as a result, the price for our ordinary shares.

Approximately 26% of our employees are in Sweden. With respect to our employees in Sweden, we are required to pay a 31.42% tax to the Swedish government on the profit an employee realizes on the exercise of our stock options or the vesting of our restricted stock units (“RSUs”). They accounted for a total of 1,761,039 in vested options as of December 31, 2021 compared to a total of 1,716,413 in vested options as of December 31, 2020. We cannot accurately predict how many of their vested options will remain outstanding. As a result, the cash payments to the Swedish government upon the exercise of vested stock options may vary significantly from quarter to quarter.

Given our levels of share-based compensation, our effective tax rate may vary significantly depending on our share price.

The tax effects of the accounting for share-based compensation may significantly impact our effective tax rate from period to period. When the share price of awards exercised in the period is greater than the accounting expense for those awards, the
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resulting excess tax benefits will be presented in equity. This means that although these excess benefits reduce our taxable income and our current tax liability, the benefit is reflected in equity rather than in the consolidated statement of operations. There can be periods when our current tax liability is nil but we disclose an income tax expense in the consolidated statement of operations (with an offsetting credit in equity).

These tax effects are dependent on our share price and level of exercises in a period, which we do not control and could significantly impact our effective tax rate and adversely affect our operating results.

Changes to tax laws, including new proposals on taxing digital companies, in any of the jurisdictions in which we operate could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

Tax laws, including tax rates, in the jurisdictions in which we operate may change as a result of macroeconomic or other factors outside of our control. For example, various governments and organizations such as the EU and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (the “OECD”) are increasingly focused on tax reform and other legislative or regulatory action to increase tax revenue, such as the imposition of taxes in connection with certain digital services.

In January 2019, the OECD announced further work in continuation of its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project, focusing on two “pillars.” Pillar One provides a framework for the reallocation of certain residual profits of multinational enterprises to market jurisdictions where goods or services are used or consumed. Pillar Two consists of two interrelated rules referred to as Global Anti-Base Erosion Rules, which operate to impose a minimum tax rate of 15% calculated on a jurisdictional basis. In the third quarter of 2021, more than 130 countries tentatively signed on to a framework that imposes a minimum tax rate of 15%, among other provisions. The framework calls for law enactment by OECD and G20 members in 2022 to take effect in 2023 and 2024. On December 20, 2021, the OECD published model rules to implement the Pillar Two rules, which are generally consistent with agreement reached by the framework in October 2021. These changes, when enacted by various countries in which we do business, may increase our taxes in these countries. Luxembourg is one of the jurisdictions that has agreed in principle to enforce the global minimum tax rate. As this framework is subject to further negotiation, final approval by the G20, and implementation by each member country, the timing and ultimate impact of any such changes on our tax obligations are uncertain.

The U.S. presidential administration and members of the U.S. Congress have proposed significant changes in U.S. federal income tax law, regulation and government policy within the United States, which could affect us and our business. For example, these proposals include significant changes to the U.S. federal income taxation of business entities including, among others, an increase in the tax rate applicable to global intangible low-taxed income and elimination or restriction of certain related exemptions, and the imposition of minimum taxes or surtaxes on certain types of income. These proposals are being considered by the U.S. Congress, but the likelihood of these or other changes being enacted or implemented is unclear. We are currently unable to predict whether these or other changes will occur and, if so, the ultimate impact on our business. To the extent that such changes have a negative impact on us, our suppliers or our consumers, including as a result of related uncertainty, these changes may materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.

Changes in tax laws, treaties, or regulations or their interpretation or enforcement are unpredictable. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

We may be classified as a passive foreign investment company, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. Holders of our ordinary shares.

We would be classified as a passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) for any taxable year if, after the application of certain look-through rules, either: (i) 75% or more of our gross income for such year is “passive income” (as defined in the relevant provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended), or (ii) 50% or more of the value of our assets (determined on the basis of a quarterly average) during such year is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income. Based on the trading price of our ordinary shares and the composition of our income, assets and operations, we do not believe that we were a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes for the taxable year ending on December 31, 2021, nor that we will be a PFIC in the foreseeable future. However, this is a factual determination that must be made annually after the close of each taxable year. Moreover, the value of our assets for purposes of the PFIC determination may be determined by reference to the trading price of our ordinary shares, which could fluctuate significantly. Therefore, there can be no assurance that we will not be classified as a PFIC in the future. Certain adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences could apply to a U.S. Holder if we are treated as a PFIC for any taxable year during which such U.S. Holder holds our ordinary shares. Accordingly, each holder of our ordinary shares should consult such holder’s tax advisor as to the potential effects of the PFIC rules.

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If a United States person is treated as owning at least 10% of our ordinary shares, such holder may be subject to adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences.

If a United States person is treated as owning (directly, indirectly, or constructively) at least 10% of the value or voting power of our ordinary shares, such person may be treated as a “United States shareholder” with respect to each “controlled foreign corporation” in our group (if any). Because our group includes one or more U.S. subsidiaries, certain of our non-U.S. subsidiaries could be treated as controlled foreign corporations, regardless of whether or not we are treated as a controlled foreign corporation (although there is currently a pending legislative proposal to significantly limit the application of these rules). A United States shareholder of a controlled foreign corporation may be required to report annually and include in its U.S. taxable income its pro rata share of “Subpart F income,” “global intangible low-taxed income,” and investments in U.S. property by controlled foreign corporations, regardless of whether we make any distributions. An individual that is a United States shareholder with respect to a controlled foreign corporation generally would not be allowed certain tax deductions or foreign tax credits that would be allowed to a United States shareholder that is a U.S. corporation. Failure to comply with these reporting obligations may subject a United States shareholder to significant monetary penalties and may prevent the statute of limitations with respect to such shareholder’s U.S. federal income tax return for the year for which reporting was due from starting. We cannot provide any assurances that we will assist investors in determining whether any of our non-U.S. subsidiaries is treated as a controlled foreign corporation or whether any investor is treated as a United States shareholder with respect to any such controlled foreign corporation or furnish to any United States shareholders information that may be necessary to comply with the aforementioned reporting and tax paying obligations. A United States investor should consult its advisors regarding the potential application of these rules to an investment in our ordinary shares.

Risks Related to Owning Our Ordinary Shares

The trading price of our ordinary shares has been and will likely continue to be volatile.

The trading price of our ordinary shares has been and is likely to continue to be volatile. In 2021, the trading price of our ordinary shares ranged from $205.08 to $364.59. The market price of our ordinary shares may fluctuate or decline significantly in response to the factors enumerated in this report, as well as other factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

quarterly variations in our results of operations or those of our competitors;
the accuracy of our financial guidance or projections;
our announcements or our competitors’ announcements regarding new services, enhancements, significant contracts, acquisitions, or strategic investments;
the overall performance of the equity markets, including fluctuations due to general economic uncertainty or negative market sentiment, in particular related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
any major change in our board of directors or management;
publication of research reports about us or our industry or changes in recommendations or withdrawal of research coverage by securities analysts; and
sales or expected sales, or repurchases or expected repurchases, of our ordinary shares by us, and our officers, directors, and significant shareholders.

In addition, the stock market in general, and the market for technology companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. Price volatility over a given period may cause the average price at which the Company repurchases its ordinary shares to exceed the trading price at a given point in time. Securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in the overall market and in the market price of a company’s securities. Such litigation, if instituted against us, could result in very substantial costs, divert our management’s attention and resources and harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Provisions in our articles of association, the issuance of beneficiary certificates, and the existence of certain voting agreements may delay or prevent our acquisition by a third party.

Our articles of association contain provisions that may make it more difficult or expensive for a third party to acquire control of us without the approval of our board of directors and, if required, our shareholders. These provisions also may delay, prevent, or deter a merger, acquisition, tender offer, proxy contest, or other transaction that might otherwise result in our shareholders receiving a premium over the market price for their ordinary shares. The provisions include, among others, the authorization granted by the general meeting of shareholders to our board of directors to issue ordinary shares within the limits of the authorized share capital at such times and on such terms as our board of directors may decide for a maximum period of five years after the date of publication in the Luxembourg official gazette (Recueil électronique des Sociétés et Associations, as applicable) of the minutes of the relevant general meeting approving such authorization. The general meeting may amend, renew, or extend such authorized share capital and such authorization to the board of directors to issue ordinary shares.
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The provisions of our articles of association could discourage potential takeover attempts and reduce the price that investors might be willing to pay for our ordinary shares in the future, which could reduce the trading price of our ordinary shares.

Additionally, the issuance of beneficiary certificates also may make it more difficult or expensive for a third party to acquire control of us without the approval of our founders. See “—The issuance of beneficiary certificates to certain shareholders, including our founders, will limit your voting power and your ability to influence the composition of the board of directors, strategy, or performance of the business. We cannot predict the impact that beneficiary certificates may have on our stock price.”

We do not expect to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future.

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our share capital. We currently intend to retain any future earnings for working capital and general corporate purposes and do not expect to pay dividends or other distributions on our ordinary shares in the foreseeable future. As a result, you may only receive a return on your investment in our ordinary shares if you sell some or all of your ordinary shares after the trading price of our ordinary shares increases. You may not receive a gain on your investment when you sell your ordinary shares and you may lose the entire amount of the investment.

Moreover, we are a holding company and have no material assets other than our direct and indirect ownership of shares in our subsidiaries. Our ability to pay any future dividends is subject to restrictions on the ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make distributions to us, including the laws of the relevant jurisdiction in which the subsidiaries are organized or located, as well as any restrictions in the future indebtedness of our subsidiaries or on our ability to receive dividends or distributions from our subsidiaries. Since we are expected to rely primarily on dividends from our direct and indirect subsidiaries to fund our financial and other obligations, restrictions on our ability to receive such funds may adversely impact our ability to fund our financial and other obligations.

The issuance of beneficiary certificates to certain shareholders, including our founders, will limit your voting power and your ability to influence the composition of the board of directors, strategy, or performance of the business. We cannot predict the impact that beneficiary certificates may have on our stock price.

Our shareholders have authorized the issuance of up to 1,400,000,000 beneficiary certificates to shareholders of the Company without reserving to our existing shareholders a preemptive right to subscribe for the beneficiary certificates issued in the future. As of December 31, 2021, our founders, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, beneficially owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, ordinary shares and beneficiary certificates representing 31.9% and 42.5% of the combined voting power of all of our outstanding voting securities, respectively (or 74.4% in the aggregate). See “Item 7.A. Major Shareholders.” We may issue additional beneficiary certificates under the total authorized amount at the discretion of our board of directors, of which our founders are members. Pursuant to our articles of association, our beneficiary certificates may be issued at a ratio of between one and 20 beneficiary certificates per ordinary share as determined by our board of directors or its delegate at the time of issuance. For example, in the future, we may issue to Mr. Ek up to 20 beneficiary certificates for each ordinary share he receives upon the exercise of outstanding warrants, of which he currently holds 1,600,000. See “Item 6.B. Compensation—Compensation Discussion & Analysis—Warrants.” Each beneficiary certificate entitles its holder to one vote. The beneficiary certificates carry no economic rights and are issued to provide the holders of such beneficiary certificates with additional voting rights. The beneficiary certificates, subject to certain exceptions, may not be transferred and will automatically be canceled for no consideration in the case of sale or transfer of the ordinary share to which they are linked. As a result, the issuance of the beneficiary certificates and the voting power that they provide to the shareholders receiving those beneficiary certificates will limit the voting power of minority shareholders and the ability of minority shareholders to influence the composition of the board of directors, strategy, or performance of our business.

As a result of this ownership or control of our voting securities, if our founders act together, they will have control over the outcome of substantially all matters submitted to our shareholders for approval, including the election of directors. This may delay or prevent an acquisition or cause the trading price of our ordinary shares to decline. Our founders may have interests different from yours. Therefore, the concentration of voting power among our founders may have an adverse effect on the price of our ordinary shares.

Sales of substantial amounts of our ordinary shares in the public market by our founders, affiliates, or non-affiliates, or the perception that such sales could occur, could adversely affect the trading price of our ordinary shares and may make it more difficult for you to sell your ordinary shares at a time and price that you deem appropriate.

Finally, we cannot predict whether the issuance of additional beneficiary certificates will result in a lower or more volatile trading price of our ordinary shares or result in adverse publicity or other adverse consequences. For example, FTSE Russell
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requires new constituents of its indexes to have greater than five percent of the company’s voting rights in the hands of public shareholders, and S&P Dow Jones will not admit companies with multiple-class share structures to certain of its indexes. While we do not have a multiple-class share structure, we cannot predict if we would be excluded from these indexes as a result of the issuance of beneficiary certificates and we cannot assure you that other stock indexes will not take similar actions. Given the sustained flow of investment funds into passive strategies that seek to track certain indexes, exclusion from stock indexes would likely preclude investment by many of these funds and could make our ordinary shares less attractive to other investors. As a result, the trading price of our ordinary shares could be adversely affected.

Risks Related to Investment in a Luxembourg Company and Our Status as a Foreign Private Issuer

As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from a number of U.S. securities laws and rules promulgated thereunder and are permitted to publicly disclose less information than U.S. companies must. This may limit the information available to holders of the ordinary shares.

We currently qualify as a foreign private issuer, as defined in the rules and regulations of the SEC, and, consequently, we are not subject to all of the disclosure requirements applicable to companies organized within the United States. For example, we are exempt from certain rules under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) that regulate disclosure obligations and procedural requirements related to the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations applicable to a security registered under the Exchange Act. In addition, our officers and directors are exempt from the reporting and “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our securities. For example, some of our key executives may sell a significant amount of ordinary shares and such sales will not be required to be disclosed as promptly as companies organized within the United States would have to disclose. Accordingly, once such sales are eventually disclosed, our ordinary share price may decline significantly. Moreover, we are not required to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. public companies. We are also not subject to Regulation FD under the Exchange Act, which would prohibit us from selectively disclosing material nonpublic information to certain persons without concurrently making a widespread public disclosure of such information. Accordingly, there may be less publicly available information concerning our company than there is for U.S. public companies.

As a foreign private issuer, we are required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the close of each fiscal year ended December 31 and furnish reports on Form 6-K relating to certain material events promptly after we publicly announce these events. However, because of the above exemptions for foreign private issuers, our shareholders may not always be afforded the same information generally available to investors holding shares in public companies that are not foreign private issuers.

The rights of our shareholders may differ from the rights they would have as shareholders of a U.S. corporation, which could adversely impact trading in our ordinary shares and our ability to conduct equity financings.

Our corporate affairs are governed by our articles of association and the laws of Luxembourg, including the Luxembourg Company Law (loi du 10 août 1915 concernant les sociétés commerciales, telle qu’elle a été modifiée). The rights of our shareholders and the responsibilities of our directors and officers under Luxembourg law are different from those applicable to a corporation incorporated in the United States. See “Item 10.B. Memorandum and Articles of Association” for an explanation of the differences. In addition, Luxembourg law governing the securities of Luxembourg companies may not be as extensive as those in effect in the United States, and Luxembourg law and regulations in respect of corporate governance matters might not be as protective of minority shareholders as state corporation laws in the United States. Therefore, our shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in connection with actions taken by our directors and officers or our principal shareholders than they would as shareholders of a corporation incorporated in the United States.

We are organized under the laws of Luxembourg and a substantial amount of our assets are not located in the United States. It may be difficult for you to obtain or enforce judgments or bring original actions against us or the members of our board of directors in the United States.

We are organized under the laws of Luxembourg. In addition, a substantial amount of our assets are located outside the United States. Furthermore, many of the members of our board of directors and officers reside outside the United States and a substantial portion of their assets are located outside the United States. Investors may not be able to effect service of process within the United States upon us or these persons or enforce judgments obtained against us or these persons in U.S. courts, including judgments in actions predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws. Likewise, it may also be difficult for an investor to enforce in U.S. courts judgments obtained against us or these persons in courts located in jurisdictions outside the United States, including judgments predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws. Awards of punitive damages in actions brought in the United States or elsewhere are generally not enforceable in Luxembourg.

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As there is no treaty in force on the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters between the United States and Luxembourg, courts in Luxembourg will not automatically recognize and enforce a final judgment rendered by a U.S. court. A valid judgment obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction in the United States may be entered and enforced through a court of competent jurisdiction in Luxembourg, subject to compliance with the enforcement procedures (exequatur). The enforceability in Luxembourg courts of judgments rendered by U.S. courts will be subject, prior to any enforcement in Luxembourg, to the procedure and the conditions set forth in the Luxembourg procedural code. In addition, actions brought in a Luxembourg court against us, the members of our board of directors, or our officers to enforce liabilities based on U.S. federal securities laws may be subject to certain restrictions. In particular, Luxembourg courts generally do not award punitive damages. Litigation in Luxembourg also is subject to rules of procedure that differ from the U.S. rules. Proceedings in Luxembourg would have to be conducted in the French or German language, and all documents submitted to the court would, in principle, have to be translated into French or German. For these reasons, it may be difficult for a U.S. investor to bring an original action in a Luxembourg court predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws against us, the members of our board of directors, or our officers. In addition, even if a judgment against the Company, the non-U.S. members of our board of directors, or our officers based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws is obtained, a U.S. investor may not be able to enforce it in U.S. or Luxembourg courts.

Our articles of association provide that directors and officers, past and present, are entitled to indemnification from us to the fullest extent permitted by Luxembourg law against all liability and expenses reasonably incurred or paid by him or her in connection with any claim, action, suit, or proceeding in which he or she would be involved by virtue of his or her being or having been a director or officer and against amounts paid or incurred by him or her in the settlement thereof, subject to limited exceptions. The rights to and obligations of indemnification among or between us and any of our current or former directors and officers are generally governed by the laws of Luxembourg and subject to the jurisdiction of the Luxembourg courts, unless such rights or obligations do not relate to or arise out of such persons’ capacities listed above. Although there is doubt as to whether U.S. courts would enforce this indemnification provision in an action brought in the United States under U.S. federal or state securities laws, this provision could make it more difficult to obtain judgments outside Luxembourg or from non-Luxembourg jurisdictions that would apply Luxembourg law against our assets in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg and European insolvency and bankruptcy laws are substantially different from U.S. insolvency laws and may offer our shareholders less protection than they would have under U.S. insolvency and bankruptcy laws.

As a company organized under the laws of Luxembourg and with its registered office in Luxembourg, we are subject to Luxembourg insolvency and bankruptcy laws in the event any insolvency proceedings are initiated against us including, among other things, Council and European Parliament Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (recast). Should courts in another European country determine that the insolvency and bankruptcy laws of that country apply to us in accordance with and subject to such EU regulations, the courts in that country could have jurisdiction over the insolvency proceedings initiated against us. Insolvency and bankruptcy laws in Luxembourg or the relevant other European country, if any, may offer our shareholders less protection than they would have under U.S. insolvency and bankruptcy laws and make it more difficult for them to recover the amount they could expect to recover in a liquidation under U.S. insolvency and bankruptcy laws.
Item 4. Information on the Company
A. History and Development of the Company
We are a Luxembourg public limited liability company (société anonyme), which means that shareholders’ liability is limited to their contributions to the company. The shares forming the share capital of a Luxembourg public limited liability company (société anonyme) may be publicly traded and registered on a stock exchange. Our legal name is “Spotify Technology S.A.” and our commercial name is “Spotify.” We were incorporated on December 27, 2006 as a Luxembourg private limited liability company (société à responsabilité limitée) and were transformed, on March 20, 2009, into a Luxembourg public limited liability company (société anonyme). The principal legislation under which we operate, and under which our ordinary share capital has been created, is the law of August 10, 1915 on commercial companies, as amended, and the law of December 19, 2002 on the register of commerce and companies and the accounting and annual accounts of undertakings and the regulations, as amended, made thereunder.
We are registered with the Luxembourg Trade and Companies’ Register under number B.123.052. Our registered office is located at 42-44, avenue de la Gare L-1610 Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and our principal operational office is located at Regeringsgatan 19, 111 53 Stockholm, Sweden. Our agent for U.S. federal securities law purposes is Eve Konstan, General Counsel, 150 Greenwich Street, 63rd Floor, New York, New York 10007.
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On February 14, 2019, we acquired Anchor FM Inc. (“Anchor”), a software company that enables users to create and distribute their own podcasts, for a total purchase consideration of €136 million. The acquisition allows us to leverage Anchor’s creator-focused platform to accelerate our path to becoming the world’s leading audio platform.
On February 15, 2019, we acquired Gimlet Media Inc. (“Gimlet”), an independent producer of podcast content, for a total purchase consideration of €172 million. The acquisition allows us to leverage Gimlet’s in-depth knowledge of original content production and podcast monetization.

On April 1, 2019, we acquired Cutler Media, LLC (“Parcast”), a premier storytelling podcast studio, for a total purchase consideration of €49 million. The acquisition allows us to bolster our content portfolio and utilize Parcast’s writers, producers, and researchers in the production of high-quality content

On March 6, 2020, we acquired Bill Simmons Media Group, LLC (“The Ringer”), a leading creator of sports, entertainment, and pop culture content, for a total purchase consideration of €170 million. The acquisition allows us to expand our content offering, audience reach, and podcast monetization.
On December 8, 2020, we acquired Megaphone LLC (“Megaphone”), a podcast technology company, for a total purchase consideration of €195 million. The acquisition allows us to expand and scale our podcast monetization and product offering for advertisers.
On March 2, 2021, Spotify USA Inc. issued US$1,500 million in aggregate principal amount of the Exchangeable Notes. Net proceeds from the issuance of the Exchangeable Notes were €1,223 million after deducting transaction costs. See Note 20 to our consolidated financial statements, included elsewhere in this report, for further information regarding our Exchangeable Notes.
On March 29, 2021, we acquired Betty Labs Incorporated (“Betty Labs”) for a total purchase consideration of €57 million. The acquisition allows us to accelerate our entry into the live audio space.
On June 17, 2021, we acquired Podz, Inc. (“Podz”), a technology company focused on the podcast discovery experience, for a total purchase consideration of €45 million. The acquisition allows us to complement and accelerate our focused efforts to drive podcast discovery, deliver listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerate growth of the podcast category worldwide.
See Note 5 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report.
B. Business Overview
Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators.
We are the world's most popular audio streaming subscription service with a community of 406 million MAUs, including 180 million Premium Subscribers, across 184 countries and territories as of December 31, 2021.
Music Industry Growth Continues to be Led by Streaming
Following more than 10 years of decline as the industry transitioned from physical product sales to streaming access models, the global recorded music business hit its digital inflection point in 2015 and has grown ever since. Global recorded music industry revenues grew 7% to $22 billion in 2020, following on growth of 8% in 2019, 10% in 2018, 8% in 2017, 9% in 2016, and 4% in 2015. Industry-wide streaming revenues grew nearly 20% in 2020, accounting for over 62% of global recorded music industry revenues.
As the world's most popular global audio streaming subscription service, we are a key driver of global recorded music revenue growth. Through December 31, 2021, we have paid more than €26 billion in royalties to certain record labels, music publishers, and other rights holders since our launch. In 2021, our expenses for rights holders grew by 19% compared to the prior year, making us one of the largest engines for revenue growth to artists and labels in the music industry.
Spotify is the World's Most Popular Audio Streaming Subscription Service
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Spotify has transformed the way people access and enjoy music and podcasts. Today, millions of people around the world have access to over 82 million tracks, including more than 3.6 million podcast titles, through Spotify whenever and wherever they want.
We have transformed the music industry by allowing users to move from a “transaction-based” experience of buying and owning music to an “access-based” model, which allows users to stream music on demand. In contrast, traditional radio relies on a linear distribution model in which stations and channels are programmed to deliver a limited song selection with little freedom of choice.
We are actively investing in podcasts and other forms of alternative and spoken word content to complement the music library available through our platform. We believe offering a more diverse selection of content will lead to a more enriching experience and higher user engagement. To the extent such content is made exclusive to our platform through direct ownership or licensing arrangements, we believe these investments help differentiate our Service, attract incremental users, and enhance engagement.
Spotify is more than an audio streaming service. We are in the discovery business. Every day, fans from around the world trust our brand to guide them to music, podcasts, and entertainment that they would never have discovered on their own. If discovery drives delight, and delight drives engagement, and engagement drives discovery, we believe Spotify wins and so do our users. Our brand reflects culture—and occasionally creates it—by turning vast and intriguing listening data into compelling stories that remind people of the role music, podcasts, and other audio content play in their lives and encourage new fans to join Spotify each week.
Building a Two-Sided Marketplace
We are continuing to build a two-sided marketplace for users and creators, which leverages our relationships, data analytics, and software. We have been instrumental in reshaping the way in which our users enjoy, discover, and share audio content, and with our marketplace strategy, we are empowering creators by offering unique insights and developing new tools designed to give creators more power and control and by unlocking new monetization opportunities for creators. Spotify is uniquely positioned to offer creators and fans access to one another, and to provide creators with analytics and tools that help them to better understand their fans, to support themselves, and to be able to live off of their creative work.
Our Business Model
We offer both Premium and Ad-Supported Services. Our Premium and Ad-Supported Services live independently, but thrive together. We believe this business model has allowed us to achieve scale with attractive unit economics and is a critical part of our success. Our Ad-Supported Service serves as a funnel, driving a significant portion of our total gross added Premium Subscribers. We believe our Ad-Supported Service is a strong and viable stand-alone product with considerable long-term opportunity for growth in Ad-Supported Users and revenue.
We are currently in 184 countries and territories, including our launch in over 80 new markets across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America in 2021. On a geographic basis, all four of our major regions are growing. Europe is our largest region with 136 million MAUs, accounting for 33% of our total MAUs as of December 31, 2021, an increase of 14% from the prior year. In our North America region, MAUs increased by 11% from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021 and now account for 23% of our MAUs. Our two fastest growing regions are Latin America, with 21% of our MAUs, an increase of 15% from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021, and the rest of the world, with 22% of our MAUs, an increase of 35% from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
Despite the worldwide disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and shifted listening patterns, our Ad-Supported Users and Premium Subscribers continued to spend significant time engaging with our Service. Combined, our audience streamed 110 billion hours of content for the year ended December 31, 2021, an increase of 20% compared to the year ended December 31, 2020.
Premium Service
Our Premium Service provides Premium Subscribers with unlimited online and offline high-quality streaming access to our catalog of music and podcasts. In addition to accessing our catalog on computers, tablets, and mobile devices, users can
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connect through speakers, receivers, televisions, cars, game consoles, and smart devices. The Premium Service offers a music listening experience without commercial breaks.
We generate revenue for our Premium segment through the sale of the Premium Service. The Premium Service is sold directly to end users and through partners who are generally telecommunications companies that bundle the subscription with their own services or collect payment for the stand-alone subscriptions from their end customers. Premium partner subscription revenue is based on a per-subscriber rate in a negotiated partner agreement. We also bundle the Premium Service with other services and products.
We offer a variety of subscription pricing plans for our Premium Service, including our Standard plan, Family Plan, Duo Plan, and Student Plan, among others, to appeal to users with different lifestyles and across various demographics and age groups. Our pricing varies by plan and is adapted to each local market to align with consumer purchasing power, general cost levels, and willingness to pay for an audio service. Our Family Plan consists of one primary Premium Subscriber and up to five additional sub-accounts, allowing up to six Premium Subscribers per Family Plan subscription. Our Duo Plan consists of one primary subscriber and one additional sub-account, allowing up to two Premium Subscribers per Duo Plan subscription.
In addition, as we have entered into new markets where recurring subscription services are less common, we have expanded our subscription products to include prepaid options and durations other than monthly (both longer and shorter durations), as well as expanded both online and offline payment options.
Revenue from our Premium segment is a function of the number of Premium Subscribers who subscribe to our Premium Service. As of December 31, 2021 and 2020, we had 180 million and 155 million Premium Subscribers, respectively. New Premium Subscribers are primarily sourced from the conversion of our Ad-Supported Users. Through both our online platform and external marketing efforts, we engage our Ad-Supported Users by highlighting key features that encourage conversion to our subscription offerings. These efforts include product links, campaigns targeting existing users, and performance marketing across leading social media platforms. Additionally, new subscriber growth also is driven by the success of converting users from our trial programs to full-time Premium Subscribers. These trial campaigns typically offer our Premium Service free or at a discounted price for a period of time.
Ad-Supported Service
Our Ad-Supported Service has no subscription fees and generally provides Ad-Supported Users with limited on-demand online access to our catalog of music and unlimited online access to our catalog of podcasts on their computers, tablets, and compatible mobile devices. It serves as both a Premium Subscriber acquisition channel and a robust option for users who are unable or unwilling to pay a monthly subscription fee but still want to enjoy access to a wide variety of high-quality audio and video content.

We generate revenue for our Ad-Supported segment from the sale of display, audio, and video advertising delivered through advertising impressions across our music and podcast content. We generally enter into arrangements with advertising agencies that purchase advertising on our platform on behalf of their clients and we also enter into arrangements directly with some large advertisers. These advertising arrangements are typically sold on a cost-per-thousand basis and are evidenced by an Insertion Order that specifies the terms of the arrangement such as the type of advertising product, pricing, insertion dates, and number of impressions or downloads in a stated period. Additionally, we generate revenue through arrangements with certain advertising automated exchanges, internal self-serve, and advertising marketplace platforms to distribute advertising inventory for purchase on a cost-per-thousand basis.
Our advertising strategy centers on the belief that advertising products that are based in music and podcasts and are relevant to Ad-Supported Users and podcast listeners can enhance user experiences and provide even greater returns for advertisers. We have historically introduced, and continue to introduce, new advertising products across both music and podcast content. Offering advertisers additional ways to purchase advertising on an automated basis is a key way that we continue to expand our portfolio of advertising products and enhance advertising revenue. Furthermore, we continue to focus on analytics and measurement tools to evaluate, demonstrate, and improve the effectiveness of advertising campaigns on our platform.

In February 2021, we announced the Spotify Audience Network (“SPAN”), an audio advertising marketplace which connects advertisers to listeners across our owned and exclusive podcasts, podcasts from enterprise publishers via Megaphone, and podcasts from emerging creators via Anchor. Through SPAN, we provide hosting and ad-insertion capabilities for audio publishers that allow us to sell targeted advertising to brand partners to reach listeners both on and off our platform. Some of these agreements require us to share associated revenues and can include minimum guarantees.
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Revenue for our Ad-Supported segment is affected primarily by, but not limited to, the number of our Ad-Supported Users, the total hours of content consumed by Ad-Supported MAUs, and our ability to provide innovative advertising products that are relevant to our Ad-Supported Users and podcast listeners and enhance returns for our advertising partners.

Licensing Agreements

In order to stream content to our users, we generally secure intellectual property rights to such content by obtaining licenses from, and paying royalties or other consideration to, rights holders or their agents. Below is a summary of certain provisions of our license agreements relating to sound recordings and the musical compositions embodied therein (i.e., the musical notes and the lyrics), as well as podcasts and other non-music content.

Sound Recording License Agreements with Major and Independent Record Labels

We have license agreements with record label affiliates of the three largest music companies—Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group—as well as Merlin, which represents the digital rights on behalf of hundreds of independent record labels. These agreements require us to pay royalties and, in some circumstances, make minimum guaranteed payments. They also often include marketing commitments, advertising inventory, financial and data reporting obligations, and numerous prescriptions about the manner in which the Spotify service is operated. Rights to sound recordings granted pursuant to these agreements accounted for over 77% of music streams for the year ended December 31, 2021. Generally, these license agreements have a multi-year duration, are not automatically renewable, and apply worldwide. The license agreements also allow for the record label to terminate the agreement in certain circumstances, including, for example, our failure to timely pay sums due within a certain period, our breach of material terms, and in some situations that could constitute a “change of control” of Spotify. These agreements provide that the record labels have the right to audit us for compliance with the terms of these agreements. Further, some agreements contain “most favored nations” provisions, which require that certain material contract terms are at least as favorable as the terms we have agreed to with other record labels. As of December 31, 2021, we have estimated future financial commitments of €3.3 billion. See “Item 3.D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Securing the Rights to the Content We Stream—Financial commitments required under certain of our license agreements may limit our operating flexibility and may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.”

We also have direct license agreements with independent labels, as well as companies known as “aggregators” (for example, Believe Digital, CDBaby, Distrokid, and TuneCore). The majority of these agreements are worldwide (subject to agreement on rates with certain rights holders prior to launching in new territories) but others, with local repertoire, are limited to specific territories. These agreements have financial and data reporting obligations and audit rights.

We also offer marketplace programs, some of which may result in a discounted recording royalty rate.

Musical Composition License Agreements with Music Publishers

We generally obtain licenses for two types of rights with respect to musical compositions: mechanical rights and public performance rights.

With respect to mechanical rights, in the United States, the rates that the Copyright Royalty Board set apply both to compositions that we license under the compulsory license in Section 115 of the Copyright Act and to a small number of direct licenses that we have with music publishers for U.S. rights, in which the applicable rate is generally pegged to the statutory rate set by the Copyright Royalty Board. In January 2021, we obtained a new blanket license available under U.S. law, administered by an entity called the Mechanical Licensing Collective. The Copyright Royalty Board set the rates for the Section 115 compulsory license for calendar years 2018 to 2022 in proceedings known as the “Phonorecords III Proceedings,” issuing its final written determination in November 2018. In March 2019, Google, Amazon, Pandora, and we each filed an appeal of the Copyright Royalty Board’s determination. In August 2020, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Copyright Royalty Board’s determination and remanded for further proceedings, which remain ongoing. Until the rates are finally determined, our royalty costs both retrospectively and prospectively will be based on management estimates of the rates that will apply. Additionally, the most recent proceeding before the Copyright Royalty Board, known as the “Phonorecords IV Proceedings,” has begun to set the rates for the Section 115 blanket license for calendar years 2023 to 2027, although the timing for a final determination is unknown. The rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board are also subject to further change as part of future Copyright Royalty Board proceedings.

In the United States, public performance rights are generally obtained through intermediaries known as performing rights organizations (“PROs”), which negotiate blanket licenses with copyright users for the public performance of compositions in their repertory, collect royalties under such licenses, and distribute those royalties to copyright owners. We have obtained public performance licenses from, and pay license fees to, the major PROs in the United States—ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC—
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among others. These agreements have music usage reporting obligations on Spotify and typically have one to four-year terms, and are limited to the territory of the United States and its territories and possessions.

In other parts of the world, we obtain mechanical and performance licenses for musical compositions either through local collecting societies representing publishers or from publishers directly, or a combination thereof. Our license agreements with local collecting societies and direct license agreements with publishers worldwide are generally in place for one to three years and provide for reporting obligations on both us and the licensor and auditing rights for the licensors. Certain of these license agreements also provide for minimum guaranteed payments or advance payment obligations.

Podcast License Agreements with Podcasters and Podcast Networks

With respect to podcasts and other non-music content for which we obtain distribution rights directly from rights holders, we either negotiate licenses directly with individuals or entities or obtain rights through our owned and operated platforms, such as Anchor, Soundtrap for Storytellers, and Spotify for Podcasters, that enable creators to post content directly to our Service after agreeing to comply with the applicable terms and conditions.

For original content that we produce or commission, we typically enter into multi-year commitments. Payment terms for content that we produce or commission will often require payments in advance of delivery of content. Some of these agreements also include participations, which may require us to share associated revenues, and can include minimum guarantees and other payments contingent on performance of the content.

License Agreement Extensions and Renewals

From time to time, our license agreements with certain rights holders and/or their agents expire while we negotiate their renewals. Per industry custom and practice, we may enter into extensions of those agreements (for example, months, weeks, or even days-long) or provisional licenses and/or continue to operate on an at will basis as if the license agreement had been extended, including by our continuing to make content available. It is also possible that such agreements will never be renewed at all. See “Item 3.D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Securing the Rights to the Content We Stream—We depend upon third-party licenses for most of the content we stream and an adverse change to, loss of, or claim that we do not hold any necessary licenses may materially adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.”

Intellectual Property

The success of our business depends on our ability to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights, including the intellectual property rights underlying our Service. We attempt to protect our intellectual property under patent, trade secret, trademark, and copyright laws through a combination of intellectual property registration, employee or third-party assignment and nondisclosure agreements, other contractual restrictions, technological measures, and other methods.

Seasonality

See “Item 5.D. Trend Information” for a description of the seasonality of our business.

Competition

We face robust, complex, and rapidly evolving competition in all aspects of our business, with established and emerging competitors, on the basis of a number of factors, including quality of experience, relevance, diversity of content, ease of use, price, accessibility, perception of advertising load, brand awareness, reputation, presence and visibility. Specifically, we compete with:

free and/or subscription-based digital music streaming providers, such as Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Joox, Pandora, and SoundCloud, for high-quality music content and the time and attention of our users;
online or offline providers of on-demand music, which may be purchased, downloaded, owned, or available for free, such as iTunes audio files, MP3s, or CDs;
providers of internet radio, some of which, such as Pandora, may leverage their advantage in content library, territorial coverage, existing infrastructure, and brand recognition to introduce additional streaming or on-demand music features to enhance user experience;
well-established providers of terrestrial radio, which often offer content that is free, unique and accessible; many terrestrial radio stations also broadcast digital signals providing high-quality audio transmission;
providers of satellite radio, such as SiriusXM and iHeartRadio, which may offer extensive and exclusive news, comedy, sports and talk content, and national signal coverage;
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podcast streaming providers, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts (including YouTube), Audible, Facebook, Pandora, Deezer, and TuneIn, for high-quality podcasts and time and attention of our users; a growing variety of these podcast providers seek to differentiate their service through content offering, product features, and monetization ability;
podcast creation and hosting platforms, including SoundCloud, and a host of other smaller new entrants such as Acast, Buzzsprout, Podbean, and Libsyn;
live talk audio content providers, such as Twitter, Clubhouse, Discord, Meta (including Facebook and Instagram), and ByteDance (including TikTok and Resso), for the rights to distribute content and time and attention of our users;
audiobook content providers, such as Amazon’s Audible, Google Audiobooks, Librivox, Kobo Audiobooks, and Downpour, for the rights to distribute content and time and attention of our users;
companies that offer advertising inventory and opportunities, including large online advertising platforms and networks such as Google, Apple, Amazon, AppNexus, Criteo, and Meta (including Facebook and Instagram).

With respect to each of these categories (and potentially in additional categories as we innovate our existing offerings and/or introduce new products and services), we face significant competition from these companies and from emerging technologies. See “Item 3.D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business Model, Strategy, and Performance—We face and will continue to face significant competition for users, user listening time, and advertisers.”

Additionally, competition to attract and retain qualified personnel has historically been intense, especially for software engineers, designers, and product managers. We seek to compete by offering robust compensation, benefits, health, safety and wellness programs, and a diverse, inclusive culture.

Government Regulation

We are subject to many U.S. federal and state, European, Luxembourg, and other foreign laws and regulations, including those related to privacy, data protection, content, intellectual property, advertising and marketing, competition, consumer protection, rights of publicity, health and safety, employment and labor, and taxation. These laws and regulations are constantly evolving and may be interpreted, applied, created, or amended in a manner that could harm our business. In addition, it is possible that certain governments may seek to block or limit our products or otherwise impose other restrictions that may affect the accessibility or usability of any or all of our products for an extended period of time or indefinitely.

For more information, see “Item 3.D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Operations—Our business is subject to complex and evolving laws and regulations around the world. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in claims, changes to our business practices, monetary penalties, increased cost of operations, or declines in user growth or engagement, or otherwise harm our business.” and “—Various existing, new, and changing laws and regulations as well as self-regulation and public concern related to privacy and data security pose the threat of lawsuits, regulatory fines, other liability and reputational harm, require us to expend significant resources, and may harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.”

Human Capital Resources

At Spotify, we know that when our employees grow, Spotify grows. We value innovation, sincerity, passion, collaboration, and playfulness. Our objective is to unlock the potential of human creativity by focusing on talent development, supported by robust compensation, benefits, health, safety and wellness programs, and a diverse, inclusive culture.

Talent Development

We enable and empower our employees by offering a number of learning opportunities through a variety of platforms and delivery methods, including face-to-face sessions, virtual and online sessions, and podcasts. We also host onboarding events and programs for new employees to meet other new employees and hear from leaders from around the world, including our global leadership team. We provide development opportunities for both new and seasoned managers to learn how to lead, inspire their direct reports and peers, and shape organizational culture. During 2021, we also launched an internal talent marketplace to increase development opportunities and talent movement within the company.

Compensation and Benefits

We provide competitive compensation for our employees and a range of flexible benefits, including a tailored incentive mix program, giving our employees the flexibility to choose the incentive mix that best works for them, an industry-leading parental leave policy, flexible public holidays, and one full day of paid time off a year for our employees to give back to social
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causes of their choice. During 2021, we adopted a Work from Anywhere program that allows most employees to elect their work location from physical office space and home mix options.

Health, Safety, and Wellness

We provide our employees and their families with robust healthcare benefits and a variety of health and wellness programs. Through Heart & Soul, our global mental health initiative, we focus on raising awareness and building knowledge, enabling self-care and professional support, and normalizing the conversation around mental health issues. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken a number of actions focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees, including providing our employees with the ability to work from home as well as incremental funds and food allowances to support them through the work-from-home period.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

We are dedicated to fostering a workplace free from discrimination and a culture built on the principle of inclusion. Our Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging team focuses on accelerating diversity, fostering inclusive leadership, enabling good mental health, building a culture of allyship, and amplifying a sense of belonging. During 2021, we focused on increasing diversity through our inclusive diverse recruiting strategy to ensure that we are attracting and retaining unique, innovative and passionate individuals to Spotify, which includes training for interviewers, metrics to measure improvement for our hiring teams, and the tracking of demographic data through our hiring process. In addition, we launched an internal cross-functional coalition that expands our commitment to raising awareness, providing education opportunities, and pursuing other deliverables around racial equity. We also have 14 autonomous Employee Resource Groups that represent the diversity of our workplace and advocate for communities that are often underrepresented in society.

See “Item 6.D. Employees” for more information about our employees.

Environmental Sustainability

The climate crisis is a critical global issue and we strive to be part of the solution. In 2021, we announced our intention to reach net zero emissions within the next decade through a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, redesigning and remodeling offices for environmental efficiency, continuing to adopt renewable solutions, and collaborating with suppliers to reduce emissions in our supply chain. Further, in 2021, we joined the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign to support innovative solutions and engage with the wider community to push the climate action agenda forward.

As we execute our sustainability initiatives, we expect to incur additional costs. Timing and costs of implementing our sustainability initiatives are subject to uncertainties. See “Item 3.D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Operations—We may not be able to achieve our net zero emissions target or make progress in other environmental, social, and governance initiatives.”
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C. Organizational Structure
The Company’s principal subsidiaries as at December 31, 2021 are as follows:
NamePrincipal activitiesProportion of
voting rights
and shares
held (directly
or indirectly)
Country of
incorporation
Spotify ABMain operating company100 %Sweden
Spotify USA Inc.USA operating company100 %USA
Spotify LtdSales, marketing, contract research and development, and customer support100 %UK
Spotify Spain S.L.Sales and marketing100 %Spain
Spotify GmbHSales and marketing100 %Germany
Spotify France SASSales and marketing100 %France
Spotify Canada Inc.Sales and marketing100 %Canada
Spotify Australia Pty LtdSales and marketing100 %Australia
Spotify Brasil Serviços De Música LTDASales and marketing100 %Brazil
Spotify Japan K.KSales and marketing100 %Japan
Spotify India LLPSales and marketing100 %India
S Servicios de Música México, S.A. de C.V.Sales and marketing100 %Mexico
Spotify Singapore Pte Ltd.Sales and marketing100 %Singapore
Spotify Italy S.r.l.Sales and marketing100 %Italy
D. Property, Plant and Equipment
Spotify’s principal operational offices are located in Stockholm, Sweden and New York, New York under leases for approximately 441,000 and 594,000 square feet of office space, respectively, expiring in September 2027 and April 2034, respectively. We also lease regional offices in Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Washington D.C. We also lease other offices in Sweden and lease office space in other jurisdictions, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
During 2021, to accommodate anticipated future growth, we continued the build-outs at our new and existing leased office spaces in Stockholm, New York, and Los Angeles, among others. In 2021, we capitalized €81 million of fixed assets principally related to these build-outs. We have planned capital expenditures of approximately €24 million in 2022 for additional projects in Stockholm, New York, and Boston, among others.
We believe that our existing facilities are adequate to meet current requirements and that suitable additional or substitute space will be available as needed to accommodate any further physical expansion of operations and for any additional offices.
While we continue to make investments in offices and information technology infrastructure through purchases of property and equipment and lease arrangements to provide capacity for the growth of our business, we may slow the pace of our investments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We may also see a shift in investments due to our newly implemented Work from Anywhere program.
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
None
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
For discussion related to our financial condition, changes in financial condition, and results of operations for 2020 compared to 2019, refer to Part I, Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects, in our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, which was filed with the SEC on February 5, 2021.
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Overview
Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators.
We are the world's most popular audio streaming subscription service. With a presence in 184 countries and territories, our platform includes 406 million MAUs and 180 million Premium Subscribers as of December 31, 2021.
We currently monetize our Service through both subscriptions and advertising. Our Premium Subscribers grew 16% year-over-year as of December 31, 2021 to 180 million. Our 406 million MAUs grew 18% year-over-year as of December 31, 2021.
Acquisitions
During the year ended December 31, 2021, the Group made strategic acquisitions to enhance our capabilities in audio and podcast discovery.
On March 29, 2021, we acquired Betty Labs for a total purchase consideration of €57 million. The acquisition allows us to accelerate our entry into the live audio space.
On June 17, 2021, we acquired Podz, Inc. (“Podz”), a technology company focused on the podcast discovery experience, for a total purchase consideration of €45 million. The acquisition allows us to complement and accelerate our focused efforts to drive podcast discovery, deliver listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerate growth of the podcast category worldwide.
Exchangeable Notes
On March 2, 2021, Spotify USA Inc. issued US$1,500 million in aggregate principal amount of the Exchangeable Notes. Net proceeds from the issuance of the Exchangeable Notes were €1,223 million after deducting transaction costs. See Note 20 in the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report for further information regarding our Exchangeable Notes.
Long term investment - Tencent Music Entertainment Group
During the year ended December 31, 2021, the fair value of our holdings in TME decreased by €1,376 million from €2,228 million as of December 31, 2020 to €852 million as of December 31, 2021 due to the decline in TME's share price during this period. The market value of our investment in TME fluctuates due to volatility in the share price used to measure the investment. Furthermore, the value of our investment is subject to the risks associated with TME’s business, as well as any changes by the Chinese government in foreign investment laws or elevated scrutiny or regulation of foreign investments in Chinese companies.
How We Generate Revenue
We operate and manage our business in two reportable segments—Premium and Ad-Supported. We identify our reportable segments based on the organizational units used by the chief operating decision maker to monitor performance and make operating decisions. See Note 6 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report for additional information regarding our reportable segments.
Premium
Our Premium Service provides Premium Subscribers with unlimited online and offline high-quality streaming access to our catalog of music and podcasts. In addition to accessing our catalog on computers, tablets, and mobile devices, users can connect through speakers, receivers, televisions, cars, game consoles, and smart devices. The Premium Service offers a music listening experience without commercial breaks.
We generate revenue for our Premium segment through the sale of the Premium Service. The Premium Service is sold directly to end users and through partners who are generally telecommunications companies that bundle the subscription with their own services or collect payment for the stand-alone subscriptions from their end customers. Premium partner subscription
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revenue is based on a per-subscriber rate in a negotiated partner agreement. We also bundle the Premium Service with other services and products.
We offer a variety of subscription pricing plans for our Premium Service, including our Standard plan, Family Plan, Duo Plan, and Student Plan, among others, to appeal to users with different lifestyles and across various demographics and age groups. Our pricing varies by plan and is adapted to each local market to align with consumer purchasing power, general cost levels, and willingness to pay for an audio service. Our Family Plan consists of one primary Premium Subscriber and up to five additional sub-accounts, allowing up to six Premium Subscribers per Family Plan subscription. Our Duo Plan consists of one primary subscriber and one additional sub-account, allowing up to two Premium Subscribers per Duo Plan subscription.
In addition, as we have entered into new markets where recurring subscription services are less common, we have expanded our subscription products to include prepaid options and durations other than monthly (both longer and shorter durations), as well as expanded both online and offline payment options.
Revenue from our Premium segment is a function of the number of Premium Subscribers who subscribe to our Premium Service. As of December 31, 2021 and 2020, we had 180 million and 155 million Premium Subscribers, respectively. New Premium Subscribers are primarily sourced from the conversion of our Ad-Supported Users. Through both our online platform and external marketing efforts, we engage our Ad-Supported Users by highlighting key features that encourage conversion to our subscription offerings. These efforts include product links, campaigns targeting existing users, and performance marketing across leading social media platforms. Additionally, new subscriber growth also is driven by the success of converting users from our trial programs to full-time Premium Subscribers. These trial campaigns typically offer our Premium Service free or at a discounted price for a period of time.
The rate of net growth in Premium Subscribers also is affected by our ability to retain our existing Premium Subscribers and the mix of subscription pricing plans. We have increased retention over time, as new features and functionality have led to increased user engagement and satisfaction. From a product perspective, while our Family Plan, Duo Plan, and our Student Plan have lower price points per Premium Subscriber than our Standard plan, each of these Plans has helped improve retention across the Premium Service.
Our platform is built to work across multiple devices, including smartphones, desktops, cars, game consoles, and in-home devices. We have found that Premium Subscribers who access our Service through multiple devices have higher engagement and lower churn, which increases their expected lifetime value to Spotify.
Ad-Supported

Our Ad-Supported Service has no subscription fees and generally provides Ad-Supported Users with limited on-demand online access to our catalog of music and unlimited online access to our catalog of podcasts on their computers, tablets, and compatible mobile devices. It serves as both a Premium Subscriber acquisition channel and a robust option for users who are unable or unwilling to pay a monthly subscription fee but still want to enjoy access to a wide variety of high-quality audio content

We generate revenue for our Ad-Supported segment from the sale of display, audio, and video advertising delivered through advertising impressions across our music and podcast content. We generally enter into arrangements with advertising agencies that purchase advertising on our platform on behalf of their clients and we also enter into arrangements directly with some large advertisers. These advertising arrangements are typically sold on a cost-per-thousand basis and are evidenced by an Insertion Order that specifies the terms of the arrangement such as the type of advertising product, pricing, insertion dates, and number of impressions or downloads in a stated period. Additionally, we generate revenue through arrangements with certain advertising automated exchanges, internal self-serve, and advertising marketplace platforms to distribute advertising inventory for purchase on a cost-per-thousand basis. These advertising arrangements typically specify the type of advertising product, pricing, insertion dates, and number of impressions in a stated period.

Revenue from our Ad-Supported segment is dependent primarily on the number and hours of engagement of our Ad-Supported Users and podcast listeners and our ability to provide innovative advertising products that are relevant to those users and enhance returns for our advertising partners. Revenue is recognized based on the number of impressions delivered. We might also offer cash rebates to advertising agencies based on the volume of advertising inventory purchased. These rebates are estimated based on expected performance and historical data and result in a reduction of revenue recognized.

Our advertising strategy centers on the belief that advertising products that are based in music and podcasts and are relevant to Ad-Supported Users and podcast listeners can enhance user experiences and provide even greater returns for
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advertisers. We have historically introduced, and continue to introduce, new advertising products across both music and podcast content. Offering advertisers additional ways to purchase advertising on an automated basis is a key way that we continue to expand our portfolio of advertising products and enhance advertising revenue. Furthermore, we continue to focus on analytics and measurement tools to evaluate, demonstrate, and improve the effectiveness of advertising campaigns on our platform.

In February 2021, we announced the Spotify Audience Network (“SPAN”), an audio advertising marketplace which connects advertisers to listeners across our owned and exclusive podcasts, podcasts from enterprise publishers via Megaphone, and podcasts from emerging creators via Anchor. Through SPAN, we provide hosting and ad-insertion capabilities for audio publishers that allow us to sell targeted advertising to brand partners to reach listeners both on and off our platform. Some of these agreements require us to share associated revenues and can include minimum guarantees.
Revenue from our Ad-Supported segment will also be impacted by the demographic profile of our Ad-Supported Users and podcast listeners and our ability to enable advertisers to reach their target audience with relevant advertising in the geographic markets in which we operate. A large percentage of our Ad-Supported Users are between 18 and 34 years old. This is a highly sought-after demographic that has traditionally been difficult for advertisers to reach. By offering advertisers increased “self-serve options,” we continue to improve the efficiency and scalability of our advertising platform. Additionally, we believe that our largest markets, including Europe and North America, are among the top advertising markets globally. However, our continuing expansion into new geographic markets will present monetization challenges. Monetizing our Ad-Supported User base has historically been, and is expected to remain, more challenging in our two fastest growing regions, Latin America and the rest of the world, compared to Europe and North America.
Components of our Operating Results
Cost of Revenue. Cost of revenue consists predominantly of royalty and distribution costs related to content streaming. We incur royalty costs, which we pay to certain record labels, music publishers, and other rights holders, for the right to stream music to our users. Royalties are typically calculated monthly based on the combination of a number of different elements. Generally, Premium Service royalties are based on the greater of a percentage of revenue and a per user amount. Royalties for the Ad-Supported Service are typically a percentage of relevant revenue, although certain agreements are based on the greater of a percentage of relevant revenue and an amount for each time a sound recording and musical composition are streamed. We have negotiated lower per user amounts for our lower priced subscription plans such as Family Plan, Duo Plan, and Student Plan users. In our agreements with certain record labels, the percentage of revenue used in the calculation of royalties is generally dependent upon certain targets being met. The targets can include such measures as the number of Premium Subscribers, the ratio of Ad-Supported Users to Premium Subscribers, and/or the rates of Premium Subscriber churn. In addition, royalty rates vary by country. Some of our royalty agreements require that royalty costs be paid in advance or are subject to minimum guaranteed amounts. For the majority of royalty agreements incremental costs incurred due to un-recouped advances and minimum guarantees have not been significant to date. We also have certain so-called most favored nation royalty agreements, which require us to record additional costs if certain material contract terms are not as favorable as the terms we have agreed to with similar licensors. Cost of revenue also reflects discounts provided by certain rights holders in return for promotional activities in connection with marketplace programs. Additionally, it includes the costs of discounted trials.
Cost of revenue also includes the amortization of podcast content assets (both produced and licensed). Amortization of podcast content assets is recorded over the shorter of the estimated useful economic life or the license period (if relevant) and begins at the release of each episode. We make payments to podcast publishers, whose content we monetize through advertising sales, which are also included in cost of revenue.
Cost of revenue also includes credit card and payment processing fees for subscription revenue, customer service, certain employee compensation and benefits, cloud computing, streaming, facility, and equipment costs.
Research and Development. We invest heavily in research and development in order to drive user engagement and customer satisfaction on our platform, which we believe helps drive organic growth in MAUs, which in turn drives additional growth in, and better retention of, Premium Subscribers, as well as increased advertising opportunities to our users. We aim to design products and features that create and enhance user experiences, and new technologies are at the core of many of these opportunities. Research and development expenses were 9%, 11%, and 9% of our total revenue in each of 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively. Expenses primarily comprise costs incurred for the development of products related to our platform and Service, as well as new advertising products and improvements to our mobile application and desktop application and streaming services. The costs incurred include related facility costs, consulting costs, and employee compensation and benefits costs. We expect engineers to represent a significant portion of our employees over the foreseeable future.
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Many of our new products and improvements to our platform require large investments and involve substantial time and risks to develop and launch. Some of these products may not be well received or may take a long time for users to adopt. As a result, the benefits of our research and development investments are difficult to forecast.
Sales and Marketing. Sales and marketing expenses primarily comprise employee compensation and benefits, public relations, branding, consulting expenses, customer acquisition costs, advertising, marketing events and trade shows, amortization of trade name intangible assets, the cost of working with music record labels, publishers, songwriters, and artists to promote the availability of new releases on our platform, and the costs of providing free trials of our Premium Service. Expenses included in the cost of providing free trials are derived primarily from per user royalty fees determined in accordance with the rights holder agreements.
General and Administrative. General and administrative expenses primarily comprise employee compensation and benefits for functions such as finance, accounting, analytics, legal, human resources, consulting fees, and other costs including facility and equipment costs, directors' and officers’ liability insurance, director fees, and fair value adjustments on contingent consideration.
Key Performance Indicators
We use certain key performance indicators to monitor and manage our business. We use these indicators to evaluate our business, measure our performance, identify trends affecting our business, formulate business plans, and make strategic decisions. We believe these indicators provide useful information to investors in understanding and evaluating our operating results in the same manner we do.
MAUs
We track MAUs as an indicator of the size of the audience engaged with our Service. We define MAUs as the total count of Ad-Supported Users and Premium Subscribers that have consumed content for greater than zero milliseconds in the last thirty days from the period-end indicated. Reported MAUs may overstate the number of unique individuals who actively use our Service within a thirty-day period as one individual may register for, and use, multiple accounts. Additionally, though we strive to detect and minimize non-bona fide accounts that may typically be created in an attempt to artificially stream content, they may contribute, from time to time, to an overstatement in our reported MAUs. Our MAUs in the tables below are inclusive of Ad-Supported Users who may have employed methods to limit or otherwise avoid being served advertisements. For additional information, refer to the risk factors discussed under “Item 3.D. Risk Factors” included elsewhere in this report.
The table below sets forth our MAUs as of December 31, 2021, 2020, and 2019.
As of December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in millions, except percentages)
MAUs406 345 271 61 18 %74 27 %
MAUs were 406 million as of December 31, 2021. This represented an increase of 18% from the preceding fiscal year. MAUs benefited from our continued investment in driving the growth of our Service, both through geographic expansion and consumer marketing. MAUs also benefited from continued investment in content and features on our platform, including featured playlists, artist marketing campaigns, podcasts, and original content, to drive increased user engagement and customer satisfaction.
Premium Subscribers
We define Premium Subscribers as users that have completed registration with Spotify and have activated a payment method for Premium Service. Our Premium Subscribers include all registered accounts in our Family Plan and Duo Plan. Our Family Plan consists of one primary subscriber and up to five additional sub-accounts, allowing up to six Premium Subscribers per Family Plan Subscription. Our Duo Plan consists of one primary subscriber and up to one additional sub-account, allowing up to two Premium Subscribers per Duo Plan Subscription. Premium Subscribers includes subscribers in a grace period of up to 30 days after failing to pay their subscription fee.
The table below sets forth our Premium Subscribers as of December 31, 2021, 2020, and 2019.
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As of December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in millions, except percentages)
Premium Subscribers180 155 124 25 16 %30 24 %
Premium Subscribers were 180 million as of December 31, 2021. This represented an increase of 16% from the preceding fiscal year. The Family Plan was a meaningful contributor of total gross added Premium Subscribers, while our free trial offers and global campaigns also accounted for a significant portion of gross added Premium Subscribers. In addition, there was an increase in the number of Premium Subscribers on our Duo Plan.
Ad-Supported MAUs
We define Ad-Supported MAUs as the total count of Ad-Supported Users that have consumed content for greater than zero milliseconds in the last thirty days from the period-end indicated.
The table below sets forth our Ad-Supported MAUs as of December 31, 2021, 2020, and 2019.
As of December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in millions, except percentages)
Ad-Supported MAUs236 199 153 37 19 %46 30 %
Ad-Supported MAUs were 236 million as of December 31, 2021. This represented an increase of 19% from the preceding fiscal year. Ad-Supported MAUs benefited from our continued investment in driving the growth of our Ad-Supported Service, both through geographic expansion and consumer marketing. Ad-Supported MAUs also benefited from continued investment in content and features on our platform, including featured playlists, artist marketing campaigns, podcasts, and original content, to drive increased Ad-Supported User engagement and customer satisfaction.
Premium ARPU
Premium ARPU is a monthly measure defined as Premium subscription revenue recognized in the quarter indicated divided by the average daily Premium Subscribers in such quarter, which is then divided by three months. Annual figures are calculated by averaging Premium ARPU for the four quarters in such fiscal year.
The table below sets forth our average Premium ARPU for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020, and 2019.
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
Premium ARPU4.29 4.31 4.72 (0.02)— %(0.41)(9)%
For the year ended December 31, 2021, Premium ARPU was €4.29, which was relatively flat compared to the preceding fiscal year. The decrease of €0.02 was primarily driven by movements in foreign exchange rates, reducing Premium ARPU by €0.05, partially offset by an increase in ARPU for the Family Plan, as a result of price increases, as well as an increase in ARPU for the Duo Plan, as a result of changes in Premium Subscriber mix.
The table below sets forth our average Premium ARPU for the quarters ended December 31, 2021, 2020, and 2019.
Three months ended December 31, 2021Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
Premium ARPU4.40 4.26 4.65 0.14 %(0.39)(8)%
For the quarter ended December 31, 2021, Premium ARPU was €4.40. This represented an increase of 3% from the preceding fiscal year. The increase was due principally to movements in foreign exchange rates, increasing Premium ARPU by €0.12, and an increase in ARPU for the Family Plan, as a result of price increases, as well as an increase in ARPU for the Duo Plan, as a result of changes in Premium Subscriber mix.
A. Operating Results
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Impact of COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant volatility, uncertainty, and economic disruption. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken a number of actions focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees, maintaining business continuity, supporting the global music community, including providing the ability to work from home for our employees.
The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, financial condition, and results of operations will depend on numerous evolving factors that we may not be able to accurately predict and that will vary by market, including the duration and scope of the pandemic, including any resurgences, the impact of the pandemic on economic activity, and actions taken by governments, businesses, and individuals in response. We will continue to actively monitor and respond accordingly to the changing conditions created by the pandemic. Refer to Part I, “Item 3.D. Risk Factors” in this document for further discussion of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Revenue
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Premium8,460 7,135 6,086 1,325 19 %1,049 17 %
Ad-Supported1,208 745 678 463 62 %67 10 %
Total9,668 7,880 6,764 1,788 23 %1,116 16 %
Premium revenue
For the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, Premium revenue comprised 88% and 91% of our total revenue, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, Premium revenue increased by €1,325 million or 19%. The increase was attributable primarily to a 16% increase in Premium Subscribers.
Ad-Supported revenue
For the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, Ad-Supported revenue comprised 12% and 9% of our total revenue, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, Ad-Supported revenue increased by €463 million or 62%. This increase was due primarily to growth in music impressions sold and growth in CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions), which increased revenue in our direct and programmatic channels by €181 million and €87 million, respectively. Ad sales from our self-serve platform, podcast ad sales from SPAN, The Ringer, and exclusive licensing of the Joe Rogan Experience also contributed to the increase in revenue during the year ended December 31, 2021. Ad-Supported revenue during the year ended December 31, 2020 was impacted by COVID-19.
Foreign exchange impact on total revenue
The general movement of the Euro relative to certain foreign currencies, primarily the U.S. dollar, for the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, had an unfavorable net impact on our revenue. We estimate that total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 would have been approximately €101 million higher if foreign exchange rates had remained consistent with foreign exchange rates for the year ended December 31, 2020.
Cost of revenue
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Premium5,986 5,126 4,443 860 17 %683 15 %
Ad-Supported1,091 739 599 352 48 %140 23 %
Total7,077 5,865 5,042 1,212 21 %823 16 %
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Premium cost of revenue
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, Premium cost of revenue increased by €860 million, or 17%, and Premium cost of revenue as a percentage of Premium revenue decreased from 72% to 71%. The increase in Premium cost of revenue was driven primarily by the growth in new Premium Subscribers and publishing licensing rate increases, partially offset by benefits from certain marketplace programs, collectively resulting in higher royalty costs of €898 million. The year ended December 31, 2021 included a net €46 million benefit relating to changes in prior period estimates for rights holder liabilities.
Ad-Supported cost of revenue
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, Ad-Supported cost of revenue increased by €352 million, or 48%, and Ad-Supported cost of revenue as a percentage of Ad-Supported revenue decreased from 99% to 90%. The increase in Ad-Supported cost of revenue was driven primarily by higher royalty and SPAN revenue sharing arrangement costs of €235 million due to growth in both advertising revenue and streams as well as publishing licensing rate increases, partially offset by benefits from certain marketplace programs. There was also an increase in other content costs of €99 million.
Foreign exchange impact on total cost of revenue
The general movement of the Euro relative to certain foreign currencies, primarily the U.S. dollar, for the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, had a favorable net impact on our cost of revenue. We estimate that total cost for the year ended December 31, 2021 would have been approximately €83 million higher, if foreign exchange rates had remained consistent with foreign exchange rates for the year ended December 31, 2020.
Gross profit and gross margin
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Gross profit
Premium2,4742,0091,64346523 %366 22 %
Ad-Supported1176791111,850 %(73)(92)%
Consolidated2,5912,0151,72257629 %293 17 %
Gross margin
Premium29 %28 %27 %
Ad-Supported10 %%12 %
Consolidated27 %26 %25 %
Premium gross profit and gross margin
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, Premium gross profit increased by €465 million and Premium gross margin increased from 28% to 29%. The increase in Premium gross margin was due primarily to benefits from certain marketplace programs and changes in prior period estimates for rights holder liabilities during the year ended December 31, 2021. These gross margin benefits were partially offset by increases in publishing licensing rates.

Ad-Supported gross profit and gross margin
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, Ad-Supported gross profit increased by €111 million to a gross profit of €117 million, and Ad-Supported gross margin increased from 1% to 10%. The increase in Ad-Supported gross margin was due primarily to a decrease in streaming delivery, ad servicing and production cost as a percentage of revenue. Additionally, podcast revenue growth outpaced podcast costs growth. Certain benefits from marketplace programs also contributed to the increase in gross margin. These benefits were partially offset by increases in publishing licensing rates.

Research and development
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Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Research and development912 837 615 75 %222 36 %
As a percentage of revenue%11 %%
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, research and development costs increased by €75 million, or 9%, as we continually enhance our platform to retain and grow our user base. The increase was due primarily to an increase in personnel-related costs of salaries, share-based compensation, and other employee benefits of €143 million as a result of increased headcount to support our growth. Included in personnel-related costs for the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 are costs of €21 million in relation to acceleration of certain employee benefits. This increase in personnel-related costs was partially offset by a decrease in social costs of €110 million driven by share price movements. In addition, there was an increase in information technology costs of €33 million due to increase in our usage of cloud computing services and additional software license fees.
Sales and marketing
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Sales and marketing1,135 1,029 826 106 10 %203 25 %
As a percentage of revenue12 %13 %12 %
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, sales and marketing expense increased by €106 million, or 10%. The increase was due primarily to an increase in advertising costs of €128 million for marketing campaigns. There was also an increase in personnel-related costs of salaries, share-based compensation, and other employee benefits of €57 million as a result of increased headcount to support our growth, partially offset by a decrease in social costs of €43 million driven by share price movements. In addition, there was a decrease in cost of providing free trials of €35 million as a result of changes in our free trial campaigns.
General and administrative
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
General and administrative450 442 354 %88 25 %
As a percentage of revenue%%%
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, general and administrative expense increased by €8 million or 2%. The increase was due primarily to an increase in personnel-related costs for salaries, share-based compensation, and other employee benefits of €29 million, as a result of increased headcount to support our growth, partially offset by a decrease in social costs of €25 million driven by share price movements.
Finance income
Finance income consists of fair value adjustment gains on certain financial instruments, interest income earned on our cash and cash equivalents and short term investments, and foreign currency gains.
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Finance income246 94 275 152 162 %(181)(66)%
As a percentage of revenue%%%
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For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, finance income increased by €152 million. The increase was due primarily to an increase in benefits recognized from the decline in the fair value of the Exchangeable Notes of €117 million. There was also an increase in foreign exchange gains on the remeasurement of monetary assets and liabilities in a transaction currency other than the functional currency of €39 million.
Finance costs
Finance costs consist of fair value adjustment losses on financial instruments, interest expense, transaction costs on the issuance of the Exchangeable Notes and foreign currency losses.
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Finance costs(91)(510)(333)419 (82)%(177)53 %
As a percentage of revenue(1)%(6)%(5)%
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, finance costs decreased by €419 million. The decrease was due primarily to a decrease in fair value losses recorded for warrants of €302 million. There was also a decrease of €137 million in foreign exchange losses on the remeasurement of monetary assets and liabilities in a transaction currency other than the functional currency. These decreases were partially offset by €18 million of transaction costs recorded in connection with the issuance of the Exchangeable Notes during the year ended December 31, 2021.

Income tax (benefit)/expense
Year ended December 31,Change
2021202020192021 vs. 20202020 vs. 2019
(in € millions, except percentages)
Income tax expense/(benefit)283 (128)55 411 N/A(183)N/A
As a percentage of revenue%(2)%%
For the year ended December 31, 2021, income tax expense was €283 million, as compared to income tax benefit of €128 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. The change was due primarily to the derecognition of deferred taxes as a result of the unrealized decrease in the fair value of our long term investment in TME in the current year resulting in expense of €251 million compared to a benefit of €134 million in 2020. The impact of current period share-based compensation deductions recognized in equity also resulted in tax expense of €48 million compared to €18 million of expense in 2020. Additionally, the disposal of long term investment generated a tax charge through other comprehensive income which resulted in an offsetting current year income tax benefit of €30 million.
B. Liquidity and Capital Resources
Our principal sources of liquidity are our cash and cash equivalents, short term investments, and cash generated from operating activities. Cash and cash equivalents and short term investments consist mostly of cash on deposit with banks, investments in money market funds, and investments in government securities, corporate debt securities, and collateralized reverse purchase agreements. Cash and cash equivalents and short term investments increased by €1,753 million from €1,747 million as of December 31, 2020 to €3,500 million as of December 31, 2021.
We believe our existing cash and cash equivalents, short term investments, and the cash flow we generate from our operations will be sufficient to meet our working capital and capital expenditure needs and other liquidity requirements for at least the next 12 months. However, our future capital requirements may be materially different than those currently planned in our budgeting and forecasting activities and depend on many factors, including our rate of revenue growth, the timing and extent of spending on content and research and development, the expansion of our sales and marketing activities, the timing of new product introductions, market acceptance of our products, our continued international expansion, the acquisition of other companies, competitive factors, the COVID-19 pandemic, and global economic conditions. To the extent that current and anticipated future sources of liquidity are insufficient to fund our future business activities and requirements, we may be required to seek additional equity or debt financing. The sale of additional equity would result in additional dilution to our shareholders, while the incurrence of debt financing would result in debt service obligations. Such debt instruments also could
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introduce covenants that might restrict our operations. We cannot assure you that we could obtain additional financing on favorable terms, or at all. While the COVID-19 pandemic has not materially impacted our liquidity and capital resources to date, it has led to increased disruption and volatility in capital markets and credit markets. The pandemic and resulting economic uncertainty could adversely affect our liquidity and capital resources in the future. Based on past performance and current expectations, we believe our strong cash and cash equivalents and short term investments position are critical at this time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and allow us to use our cash resources for working capital needs, capital expenditures, investment requirements, contractual obligations, commitments, and other liquidity requirements associated with our operations. See “Item 3.D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business Model, Strategy, and Performance—The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and could continue to have, an adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition.”
We have planned capital expenditures of approximately €24 million in 2022 for additional projects in Stockholm, New York, and Boston, among others.
While we continue to make investments in offices and information technology infrastructure through purchases of property and equipment and lease arrangements to provide capacity for the growth of our business, we may slow the pace of our investments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We may also see a shift in investments due to our newly implemented Work from Anywhere program.
Share Repurchase Program
On August 20, 2021, the Company announced that the board of directors had approved a program to repurchase up to $1.0 billion of the Company’s ordinary shares. Repurchases of up to 10,000,000 of the Company’s ordinary shares were authorized at the Company’s general meeting of shareholders on April 21, 2021. The repurchase program will expire on April 21, 2026. The timing and actual number of shares repurchased depends on a variety of factors, including price, general business and market conditions, and alternative investment opportunities. The repurchase program is executed consistent with the Company’s capital allocation strategy of prioritizing investment to grow the business over the long term. The repurchase program does not obligate the Company to acquire any particular amount of ordinary shares, and the repurchase program may be suspended or discontinued at any time at the Company’s discretion. The Company uses current cash and cash equivalents and the cash flow it generates from operations to fund the share repurchase program.

The authorization of the previous share repurchase program, announced on November 5, 2018, expired on April 21, 2021. The total aggregate amount of repurchased shares under that program was 4,366,427 for a total of approximately $572 million.
Exchangeable Notes
On March 2, 2021, Spotify USA Inc. issued US$1,500 million in aggregate principal amount of the Exchangeable Notes. Net proceeds from the issuance of the Exchangeable Notes were €1,223 million after deducting transaction costs. See Note 20 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report for further information regarding our Exchangeable Notes.
Cash Flow
Year ended December 31,
202120202019
(in € millions)
Net cash flows from operating activities361 259 573 
Net cash flows used in investing activities(187)(372)(218)
Net cash flows from/(used in) financing activities1,250 285 (203)
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, net cash flows from operating activities increased by €102 million. The increase was due primarily to an increase in operating income and non-cash items including depreciation, amortization, and share-based compensation expense of €450 million. This increase was partially offset by unfavorable changes in working capital movement of €353 million, principally trade and other liabilities and trade receivables and other assets.
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, net cash flows used in investing activities decreased by €185 million. The decrease was due primarily to a decrease in cash consideration used in business combinations, net of cash
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acquired, of €211 million. There was also an increase in proceeds from sales of long term investments of €144 million. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in net cash inflows from purchases and sales and maturities of short term investments of €189 million.
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, net cash flows from financing activities increased by €965 million. The increase was due primarily to net proceeds of €1,223 million from the issuance of Exchangeable Notes, partially offset by a decrease in proceeds from the exercise of stock options of €152 million and an increase in repurchases of ordinary shares of €89 million.
Free Cash Flow:
We define “Free Cash Flow” as net cash flows from/(used in) operating activities less capital expenditures and change in restricted cash. Based on our definition, our Free Cash Flow is summarized as follows:
Year ended December 31,
202120202019
(in € millions)
Net cash flows from operating activities361 259 573 
Capital expenditures(85)(78)(135)
Change in restricted cash
Free Cash Flow277 183 440 
We believe Free Cash Flow is a useful supplemental financial measure for us and investors in assessing our ability to pursue business opportunities and investments and to service our debt. Free Cash Flow is not a measure of our liquidity under IFRS and should not be considered as an alternative to net cash flows from/(used in) operating activities.
Free Cash Flow is a non-IFRS measure and is not a substitute for IFRS measures in assessing our overall financial performance. Because Free Cash Flow is not a measurement determined in accordance with IFRS, and is susceptible to varying calculations, it may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures presented by other companies. You should not consider Free Cash Flow in isolation, or as a substitute for an analysis of our results as reported on our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this report.
For the year ended December 31, 2021, as compared to 2020, Free Cash Flow increased by €94 million. The increase in Free Cash Flow was due primarily to an increase in net cash flows from operating activities of €102 million, as described above.
Indebtedness
As of December 31, 2021, our outstanding indebtedness, other than lease liabilities, consisted primarily of the Exchangeable Notes that mature on March 15, 2026 and bear no interest. See Note 20 to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report for further information regarding our Exchangeable Notes. We may from time to time seek to incur additional indebtedness. Such indebtedness, if any, will depend on prevailing market conditions, our liquidity requirements, contractual restrictions, and other factors.
Contractual obligations
The following tabl