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The big music labels are selling big chunks of their Spotify stakes

First Sony, now Warner Music Group.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Spotify
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

As Spotify was getting its subscription music service off the ground, the world’s biggest music labels took equity stakes in the company.

Now that Spotify has gone public, they’re selling big chunks of those holdings.

Last week, Sony, the music label with the biggest stake in Spotify, announced that it had sold about half of its shares, for about $750 million.

Today, Warner Music Group says it has sold 75 percent of its Spotify shares, for about $400 million.

Warner CEO Steve Cooper made the disclosure during the company’s earnings call this morning, and made a point of saying the sale doesn’t reflect any pessimism about Spotify’s potential. Warner, along with Sony and Universal Music Group, captures the bulk of the revenue Spotify generates, so it has a vested interest in its success.

“We’re a music company and not, by our nature, long-term holders of publicly traded equity. This sale has nothing to do with our view of Spotify’s future,” Cooper said, via prepared remarks, during the call. “We’re hugely optimistic about the growth of subscription streaming. We know it has only just begun to fulfill its potential for global scale. We fully expect Spotify to continue to play a major role in that growth.”

Warner, along with the other labels, has said it would distribute some of the cash it gets from its Spotify shares to musicians and songwriters.

Spotify went public last month at a valuation of $30 billion. The company reported its first-quarter earnings last week and disappointed investors even though it delivered the results it had predicted. Wall Street currently values the company at $27 billion.

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