Feature

Spotlight

Daniel Ek

The music industry’s “most important player” hangs out not in New York or Nashville but in Stockholm, said Steven Bertoni in Forbes. He’s Daniel Ek, the 28-year-old Swedish CEO of music-streaming service Spotify, and his “revolutionary model” for providing legal access to millions of free songs on demand might just save the music business. His success is no accident; At age 5, Ek received a guitar and a Commodore 20 computer, and “was a natural at both.” By 23, he was a self-made—but burned-out—tech millionaire, and briefly considered becoming a professional musician. Instead, he married his twin passions of music and technology, and Spotify was born. Ten million global users now use it to share and listen to songs, in exchange for hearing the odd advertisement; 2.5 million pay monthly fees for mobile access and ad-free streaming.

Some artists aren’t enthusiastic about the service, however, and that may be Spotify’s biggest obstacle to growth, said Andy Fixmer in Bloomberg Businessweek. Spotify paid $150 million to rights-holders for their music last year, but artists like Coldplay, Adele, and Tom Waits have opted out because they believe revenue from streaming “doesn’t match what they’d get from outright sales.” A limited playbook could cost Spotify listeners in the long run, unless an evolving music business forces stars to relent.

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