STOCKHOLM, March 1 (Reuters) - Spotify's filing for its highly anticipated public listing in New York revealed it expects the proportion of clients leaving the music streaming service to keep falling.
In a nearly 200-page filing, the Swedish start-up revealed more financial details than it has in its annual statements.
Spotify, launched in 2008 and available in more than 60 countries, is the biggest music streaming company in the world and counts services from Apple, Amazon and Alphabet's < GOOGL.O> Google as its main rivals.
Spotify's filing revealed the following:
CHURN TO FALL
The net proportion of subscribers who left Spotify's paid-for service, or churn, fell to 5.5 percent of paying customers in 2017, down from 6.6 percent in 2016 and 7.7 percent in 2015. In the fourth quarter of 2017 churn stood at 5.1 percent.
"As our user base matures, and with the growth in higher retention products such as our family plan and student plan, we believe premium churn will continue to trend lower over time."
Founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon owned around 23.8 percent and 12.4 percent respectively of outstanding Spotify shares as of Feb. 22 2018.
Other big Spotify shareholders include China's Tencent with 7.5 percent and Sony Music Entertainment International Ltd with 5.7 percent of the ordinary shares.
CASH FLOW, DIVIDENDS AND MARGINS
Free cash flow rose to 109 million euros in 2017, versus 73 million in 2016 and negative of 92 million euros in 2015.
Has never paid any cash dividends on share capital, and does not expect to pay dividends or other distributions on ordinary shares in foreseeable future.
Gross margin increased to 21 percent in 2017, versus 14 percent in 2016 and 12 percent in 2015.
Spotify said the increase in 2017 was "growth in revenue that outpaced the growth in content costs, due primarily to a decrease in content costs pursuant to new licensing agreements."
Spotify expects to continue to expand geographically: "Before launching in a new market, we typically optimize the local Spotify experience for local music preferences... We seek to obtain the rights to popular local content and have local curators where it makes sense."
Although an audio first platform, Spotify says it has begun expanding into non-music content like podcasts, hoping to expand that offering over time to include other non-music content, such as spoken word and short form "interstitial" videos, these expose users to formats such as pop-up ads.
TENCENT AND CHINA
Spotify said of its agreement last year with China's Tencent Holdings Ltd and its music arm to buy minority stakes in each other:
"Spotify believes the Tencent Transactions allow Spotify to invest in the long term potential of the music market in China and, in turn, TME (Tencent Music Entertainment Group) to invest in the long term potential of the music market outside of China." (Reporting by Olof Swahnberg editing by Alexander Smith)