Spotify is not just streaming. It’s becoming the entire music industry.

Louder now.
Louder now.
Image: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
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Few people have heard of Lauv, Russell Dickerson, Kim Petras, or Trippie Red. In a couple of months, everyone will.

Spotify—the biggest music-streaming service in the world right now, with 140 million active users, 60 million of whom are paying subscribers—this week launched RISE, a program that promotes hand-picked emerging artists. “We have the biggest distribution system in the world for streaming music, so why not use that to help young artists,” Troy Carter, Spotify’s head of creator services, said to Billboard.

Those four musicians, chosen for the first round, will get prime placement in playlists and company promotional materials, TV ads, and special live events; Carter added that Spotify wants to be “what MTV was” and “what HOT 97 was” for these indie acts and others to come. (The former gave generous play to videos from new artists and the latter is a New York hip-hop radio station; both have been vital in the ascent of many a music career.)

RISE—which follows the launch of similar emerging-artist initiatives from Apple Music and Deezer—takes Spotify squarely out of its purposed status as a mere music-streaming service. Spotify is now an authoritative discovery platform, a talent incubator with its RapCaviar playlist phenomenon, a network of popular radio stations, and also the primary way people are listening to music (well, after YouTube). The tech company is nearly a self-sustaining music industry in and of itself.

It’s perhaps that breadth that’s leading investors to look upon it so favorably. Tech-focused boutique investment bank GP Bullhound released a paper yesterday that gives Spotify a valuation of $20 billion when it goes public later this year or early in 2018. Analysts at the firm say Spotify’s current 60-million-subscriber figure is on target to grow to 100 million in summer 2018 and 500 million by 2020—giving Spotify “long-term potential of being valued at $100 billion.”

A tall order. GP Bullhound, a Spotify investor, also has some bias here. But given that Spotify is one of the main reasons the music industry is growing again for the first time in decades, it’s not too unreasonable a prediction.

GP Bullhound
GP Bullhound