What are some early decisions that were key to Spotify’s success?
Daniel Ek: We chose a narrow market to begin with that we knew how to serve well – Sweden. Had we started with the US there’s no way we would still be around. The US market just wasn’t ready.
Second, we spent an insane amount of time focusing on latency, when no one cared, because we were hell bent on making it feel like you had all the world’s music on your hard drive. Obsessing over small details can sometimes makes all the difference. That’s what I believe is the biggest misunderstanding about the minimum viable product concept. That is the V in the MVP.
And we did it all legally together with the industry when we had a political party in Sweden called the Pirate Party – which was a real party, with more than 7% of all votes. People thought we were crazy to work with the music industry. The general thinking was to just do whatever you wanted with music and then ask for forgiveness later.
The music industry is growing again. The music economy – like so much of the rest of the economy, from cars to publishing to news – is changing as it moves from an ownership model to an access model. And like any change, it can be complicated and challenging for lots of people. We get that, and we understand that. So it’s our responsibility to make sure that artists – and songwriters and producers and everyone else in music – understands that we are in this together with them, and that we are committed to their success. Look, we pay the great majority of our revenue back to the music industry. And as we grow, that revenue is really making a difference. Many people don’t realize that the music industry was in decline throughout all the download years (with a one year exception in which it was basically flat). Now, finally, after years and years of decline, music is growing again, streaming is behind the growth in music, and Spotify is behind the growth in streaming. So ultimately, we think the best measure of our contribution to the industry will be results – results that will give thousands and thousands of artists, songwriters, producers and so on the chance to do what they love, and their fans love, while being paid fairly for doing it. We love music, we love all the amazing people who make it, and we want to succeed together.