The Talent Drains From Spotify: Maybe They Know Something We Don’t

Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon

Last week, Spotify lost its chief designer, Ragnar Anderson, to Facebook, prompting Austin Carr to wonder whether Facebook was starting up its own music service. This week Paul Brown, the Senior Vice President of SVP of Strategic Partnerships, is off to pastures new, leaving the music streaming service after a year and a bit. Talent drains are nothing new, but Brown’s departure to a non-music-related startup, after just 16 months in such a senior position, must have Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, above, worried.

For over a year now Spotify has been trumpeting an imminent U.S. launch–according to the SVP himself, it was going to be in the third quarter of this year–which we’re already halfway through. Part of Brown’s job is to get the record companies on board, something that both Edgar Bronfman, CEO of Warner Music Group, and David Renzer, the CEO of Universal Music Publishing, seemed unwilling to commit to do back in February.

Withhalf a million paying users, and seven million subscribers, Spotify is doing well–last year it claimed to be at least six times more popular than its rivals–although it remains to be seen how the market will change when Apple comes in with its own streaming service. The other significant runners and riders in the industry, however, conquered the U.S. before going off to pastures new–MOG has said it is to launch in the U.K. sometime soon–and Spotify last month was forced to return to the drawing board after its strategy to capture the hearts of the major labels.

For the moment, says Music Week, there is no replacement for Brown. As for Spotify, there may well be a replacement for it, come 2011.

Correction: In the original version of this article we incorrectly identified David Renzer’s company.AD