The music streaming service has expanded into podcasting and audiobooks but found it difficult to turn a consistent profit.
Spotify said on Monday that it would cut nearly a fifth of its work force, at least the third round of layoffs this year, as it has struggled to become consistently profitable after spending aggressively to expand beyond music streaming into areas such as podcasting.
Spotify’s chief executive officer, Daniel Ek, wrote in a note to employees posted on the company’s website that the platform now needed to “rightsize” to account for a “very different environment.” Spotify will let go of about 1,500 people, or 17 percent of its staff.
“Economic growth has slowed dramatically and capital has become more expensive,” Mr. Ek said. “Despite our efforts to reduce costs this past year, our cost structure for where we need to be is still too big,” Mr. Ek added.
Despite being the largest music streaming platform, Spotify has long struggled to be profitable because of the terms of licensing deals it has with record labels and music publishers. The company has pushed into new areas like podcasting, including buying the podcast studios Gimlet for $230 million in 2019 and The Ringer for about $200 million in 2020. It struck expensive deals with well-known figures such as former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as Prince Harry and wife, Meghan. More recently, the company has expanded into audiobooks.
The shifts have helped Spotify attract listeners and subscribers, but have not been a financial breakthrough. In the first nine months of 2023, Spotify lost $462 million, more than double the loss in the same period in 2022.
But the company turned a small profit last quarter, its first in more than a year, in what Paul Vogel, its chief financial officer, at the time called “an important inflection point for the business.” Spotify had 226 million paying subscribers at the end of September and is on track to add 30 million for the full year, 50 percent more than it expected at the outset of 2023. The company recently raised prices for its subscriptions in more than 50 countries.
The jobs cuts are the largest Spotify has announced this year. In June, Spotify cut about 200 jobs, including many involved in podcasting. Another 600 employees had been let go in January.
As part of its leaving package for the job cuts announced on Monday, Spotify said an average employee would receive about five months of severance pay.
Adam Satariano is a technology correspondent based in Europe, where his work focuses on digital policy and the intersection of technology and world affairs.