E580: Daniel Ek, Founder & CEO of Spotify, on the state of streaming, tenacity, transparency, competition, inspiration — and what’s next for the music juggernaut

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Daniel Ek started Spotify in 2006 with a vision to revitalize the music industry, by giving consumers unprecedented access to tracks and creating a novel, sustainable business model. Now music-streaming is the norm, every player is in the game — and pioneer Spotify is sitting on top of the world with 20m+ paid subscribers. On stage with Jason at the STHLM TECH FEST, Daniel shares his journey, from starting his first company at 14, to bootstrapping Spotify with his own money, to dealing with competitors, to what’s next for the industry leader. It’s a fascinating discussion on music (and the joy and pain of innovating in this most challenging space), Spotify’s early dark days and hard lessons, startup transparency, thoughts on the Google Apple YouTube Tidal Taylor Swift potpourri, Daniel’s strategy for handling competition (hint: making Spotify better), Europe’s awesome and crazy cheap bandwidth (get with the program, America), breaking the music biz stranglehold, the future of streaming — and much more.  

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  • Paul Towers

    While I am certainly going to be in the minority with this comment I am not a massive music fan, so haven’t really had a lot of exposure to the services discussed in this episode. What I took out of it however was the look inside the mind of a Founder who got the jump on competitors with their service but now has to content with the likes of Apple entering the space.

    I also found it interesting to hear about the amount of negotiation it took to get the licences required to commence the service, and believe it was a very smart move to initially drop the US from the agreement in order to get the record labels on board. One can however see why Jason says he will never touch a music startup. The hurdles you have to jump through are insane!

  • ranndino

    Superb episode. When I first read about Spotify back in ’08 I thought what a brilliant idea! Like iTunes except with all the music ever made available on demand anywhere at any time. As a huge music fan I decided that I must get on, but it wasn’t yet available in the US. No problem. Using a UK proxy to sign up & a London pizza shop address as my home address I was on. Was hooked immediately, but 14 days later the paradise ended as I was told my “traveling” pass expired (it turned out you could listen for only 14 days with an IP that was not from one of the countries where Spotify was officially available). Well… unless you paid.

    A quick IM chat with a London buddy later that was taken care of. He’d pay for my account with his credit card & I’d PayPal him the money every month. Of course, this complicated scheme became no longer necessary once Daniel was able to negotiate a deal with American record labels (covered in this show) & it officially launched stateside. Have been enjoying it ever since & it really is a utility for me. I listen to it all day while at work & my music horizons have expanded significantly (Daniel mentioned this as well) because there’s no additional cost associated with checking out new stuff. Really hope that Spotify fends off the competition from all the big guns & wish Daniel continued success. I make it a point to support original products over big kahuna copy cats.