The Playlist follows the stories of individuals who were responsible for the formation and the success of Spotify, the streaming platform that changed the music industry forever. The series is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
After getting rejected by Google, Daniel Ek, a tech entrepreneur, went on to start an online advertising company and sold it within a year.
While the music industry was facing the wrath of online piracy with sites like The Pirate Bay sharing music for free, Daniel Ek thought of chancing upon the situation and creating a music giant that will allow people to ‘legally’ stream music for free.
TradeDoubler’s Martin Lorentzon joined him on this mission and provided all the money he needed, while Andreas Ehn took care of building the site and designing the platform they were creating, which will be called, ‘Spotify’.
While the platform was reaching its full potential, Daniel Ek still had to get the rights to the music that would be streaming here.
Per Sundin, the CEO of Sony Music in Sweden, hated the idea of free music and was amidst a battle in court with the founders of The Pirate Bay.
Sundlin initially rejected Daniel’s idea the moment he heard ‘free music’ from his mouth.
After acknowledging the change the music industry needs and taking a look at the platform Daniel believes is the future of music, he did agree to hop onto it.
Lawyer Petra Hansson became the next key player in the success of Spotify. She got them the rights to stream music, but through a paywall.
She gave Daniel an idea that will not only satisfy the labels hoping on the platform but also them. The idea was to give listeners a feature to create their own playlists that will come at the cost of Spotify Premium.
This saw Daniel selling a share of his company in order to pull this off and bring labels on his side.
While some were happy with the decisions Daniel was making by compromising with the goals they initially had, which involved giving people free music, some weren’t.
Especially the artists, who had thought that they will make decent money to live their dream through their art on Spotify. These artists eventually came and spoke against the way Spotify works.
The Playlist ending explained in detail:
Why Bobbi T went against Daniel Ek?
Daniel Ek’s high school friend, Bobbi T, was one of the promising artists that Sony once signed. She was one of those who had a good presence on Spotify in the latter years.
As the company got big, Daniel Ek did everything in his power to make sure that everyone is on his side. This way, Spotify and the labels made a lot of money.
Bobbi T had six albums and songs that were played over 200,000 times a month on Spotify. Despite being a bankable artist, she struggled to pay her rent.
Daniel Ek had promised to save the music industry from privacy to give the artists and their art some credit. Now, he and record labels were openly exploiting them through their platforms.
All Bobbi T wanted was answers from Daniel Ek about the promise he had made.
What went down during the hearing of Spotify’s case?
During the hearing against Spotify, Daniel Ek tried to defend his platform by proving how its top-tier artists have benefited from being a part of it.
The Senator, on the other hand, went on to expose Spotify’s business model. According to the data Ek provided, the artists only earn 12 dollars a month, whereas Spotify as a business often controls over 60% of the market share overseas.
The Senator also highlights that artists who joined and built Ek’s platform can’t quit it since they will lose the exposure they have.
Furthermore, she compares Ek’s business with a cartel, by articulating how artists are part of labels. The same labels that own a part of Spotify.
Once the artist becomes successful, the income from their songs’ streams goes straight to the label. The senator wonders how this model helps the artist and if Daniel feels some responsibility towards the people who made his platform worthwhile.
When Bobbie T’s time comes to speak, she shares her own views on the struggles a musician has to go through and how streaming is no less than exploitation.
Do Daniel Ek and Bobbie T get on the same page?
After the hearing, Daniel approached Bobbie and she reminded him about the goal he had. He wanted everyone to benefit from Spotify, but now his goal seems to have changed over the course of time.
He later confesses that he should have walked out of the negotiations he had made for Spotify. He should’ve stuck to his own terms rather than compromising for the sake of his company’s success.
If he had done that, things would have been different. After that conversation, Bobbie walks away while Daniel stands still, wondering about it.
For now, the bank has given him a loan, but this could be his last loan unless he figures out a new business model for his platform.
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