Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud

Feb 18, 2021

The Spotify Play

How CEO and Founder Daniel Ek Beat Apple, Google, and Amazon in the Race for Audio Dominance

Diversion Books 2021

Fifteen years ago in Stockholm, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon had a big idea. The music industry was playing a desperate game of whack-a-mole with piracy via file sharing but this was proving as hopeless as the War on Drugs. Why not, they thought, use the new torrenting technologies to bring piracy in from the cold and make themselves rich in the process?

In 2006, they founded Spotify with a handful of engineers, no licences and no revenue. Today, Spotify is the world's most popular audio streaming subscription service with 345 million users and a market capitalization of $60 billion.

How did the shy computer nerd and hyperactive investor tame hostile music labels and withstand competition from US tech giants more than ten times their size? Still struggling to achieve sustained profitability in cut-throat market segments, will Ek’s latest foray into podcasting eventually free Spotify of its dependency on the music labels or suffer the same fate as Spotify TV?

The Spotify Play: How CEO and Founder Daniel Ek Beat Apple, Google, and Amazon in the Race for Audio Dominance (Diversion Books, 2021) is the new English-language update of Spotify Untold – their 2019 Swedish business biography – Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud put Europe’s only tech giant under the microscope using information gleaned from interviews more than 80 sources and a mountain of public and private documents. The book has been translated into 15 languages and will soon be turned into a Netflix Originals miniseries.

Sven Carlsson is a technology reporter at Swedish Radio and and Jonas Leijonhufvud a business journalist at Di Digital.

*The authors own book recommendations are Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac (W. W. Norton, 2019) and Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory In Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (William Collins, 2018).

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.

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Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley advisors (a division of Energy Aspects).

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