Neil Young, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham thanked Daniel Ek. Rock legends have recently sold the rights to their song publishing giant, which can be partly attributed to the increase in digital revenue that accounts for more than half of the global record-music market is. One man saw it all before anyone else: Mr. Ek, the 37-year-old co-founder of Spotify, the world’s largest streaming service with 320 million users and counting.
For those of us who routinely call almost any song we want with a tap on our phone screen, streaming music as an indispensable development is easy. But for Mr. Ek, the streaming victory was more self-fulfilling prophecy. After years of pushback, Spotify has been at the forefront of a global revolution in the way music is consumed. This is quite significant for the Stockholm natives, who have endured heaps of negative press, hostility to underpaid musicians everywhere, and a growing threat of competitive services from Apple, Jay-Z’s Tidal, and many others.
Co-written by two veteran journalists who closely monitor the Swedish technology sector, “The Spotify Play” (translated into English by the authors themselves) delivers an outsider-to-kingmaker narrative that every gun-wielding entrepreneur Should also study. Silicon Valley veterans to head-to-head with him. Mr. Ek has outpaced his rivals and defied his critics: his triumph is soundtracked by a 1.5 billion user-generated Spotify playlist.
A crazy music fan as a teenager, Mr. Eck had a deep conversion experience with his exposure to Napster. Sean Fanning and Sean Parker’s file-sharing service was an explosion of shrapnel that pierced through the web’s commercial firewalls. Once an interviewer said, “Napster is probably the internet service that changed my life more than anything else.” What if he can merge Napster’s peer-to-peer technology with commercial content? What if he can draw file-sharing out of the shadows?
Even when Mr. Stockholm’s hot tech market was rapidly advancing as a programmer, Napster’s notion of a legal answer to music streaming never left him. In 2006, Mr. Ek’s small startup Advertigo was acquired by Tradedoubler, a digital marketing company whose co-founder Martin Lorentzon, was familiar with Mr. Ek and his ideas. The savory, flamboyant Mr. Laurentzen would become both companion and cheerleader. When he came to meet Mr. Ek in the neighborhood of Ruffish Stockholm, Mr. Ek quoted “The Godfather” on him: “Keep a hand in your pocket as if you have a gun.”