Spotify shakes off Taylor Swift controversy as users surge to 60 million

Spotify added 2.5 million paying subscribers and 10 million users in the last two months of 2014, despite increasing competition and a backlash from stars such as Taylor Swift.

The music streaming service said it had 60 million active users by the end of 2014, 15 million of who pay the $10 a month fee, the company said in a blog post on Monday.

This represents a 40 percent surge in the 40 million users it had in May.

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Spotify uses a "freemium" business model – where both paid and free options are available – which has been the center of an outcry from musicians about how they are paid by the Swedish streaming service.

Last year, Spotify released a detailed breakdown of the way that royalties are paid to appease angry artists, but this did not please Swift who just months later pulled her entire catalogue from the music streaming service. Swift's album 1989was the top-selling album in 2014 with 3.66 million copies sold, according to Nielsen.

Spotify has continuously defended its business model and said that royalties will increase with scale. In a blog post from November, the company's CEO Daniel Ek, said the freemium model was key to driving growth.

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"Here's the overwhelming, undeniable, inescapable bottom line: the vast majority of music listening is unpaid. If we want to drive people to pay for music, we have to compete with free to get their attention in the first place," Ek wrote.

Music streaming is quickly becoming the number one choice for consumers to listen to music. The streaming of music surged 54 percent from a 106 billion songs in 2013 to 164 billion in 2014, according to Nielsen, while paid downloads declined by 12 percent in 2014, falling to 1.1 billion from 1.26 billion in 2013.

Spotify is competing in an increasingly crowded market against the likes of Deezr and even Apple's Beats Music which it acquired as part of its $3 billion buyout of Beats Electronics, previously owned by rapper Dr Dre.