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Spotify Founder: “We Need To Explain How Streaming Benefits Artists”

The Swedish CEO sat down with Billboard to talk about Taylor Swift, Truffle Pig, and fatherhood.

Spotify Founder: “We Need To Explain How Streaming Benefits Artists”
[Photo: Flickr user Steve Sands/Getty Images]

Spotify Founder and CEO Daniel Ek sat down with Billboard yesterday to talk about the big, and news-making, year his company just had. The interview covers a lot of ground, from Spotify’s massive growth (the streaming service launched in 30 more countries this year) to Ek’s strategies for relieving stress (“I do the same thing I’ve been doing since I was 6 years old: I pick up a guitar and I start playing”), but lingers over the question, Will the company allow artists to pick and choose what material is on Spotify?

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No, says Ek, because then users will look for missing material elsewhere.

There’s a lot of other places where you can access that music for free, so our view is the only thing that happens by not being in the free service is that the consumer then has to go to another service to get the song, and they will. If they stay on the [Spotify] free service there’s a lot more likelihood that the consumer ends up becoming a paying subscriber, thereby generating more revenue. And then on top of that we’re paying a considerable amount every single time someone does play a song, whether it’s on the free tier or the paid tier. It’s something that we keep on discussing internally but right now our stance is the same as it has been before.

“What it has highlighted for us,” he says, “is we need to do a better job explaining to artists how streaming benefits them.” As far as Ek is concerned, streaming is the inevitable future of the music industry, and artists can either be with that or… not with that. “There are many artists to whom, through the labels, we’re paying out millions a year already,” he says. “Those check sizes will just keep increasing. I’m certain that if we can get the billion-people-plus that are consuming music online and move them into a model like Spotify, the industry would be considerably bigger than it is today.”

Other things covered in the interview:

  • What about an IPO? “That’s not something that we spend a lot of time thinking about right now.”
  • Who’s he listening to? Banks. He also recently saw some Mongolian hip-hop that he called “pretty surreal.”
  • Is he taking advantage of Sweden’s extensive paternity leave policy and spending time at home with his new daughter? Not so much. “I wish I could, but I’m going to postpone that for a few years and put my head down and grow Spotify. I have two babies.”

Read the full interview (including the backstory behind Spotify’s Truffle Pig search tool) here.

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