Founder Of Spotify Says Your Taste In Music Is More Specific Than You Think

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Answers by Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify, on Quora.

A: We chose a narrow market to begin with that we knew how to serve well - Sweden. Had we started with the US there's no way we would still be around. The US market just wasn't ready.

Second, we spent an insane amount of time focusing on latency, when no one cared, because we were hell bent on making it feel like you had all the world's music on your hard drive. Obsessing over small details can sometimes make all the difference. That's what I believe is the biggest misunderstanding about the minimum viable product concept. That is the V in the MVP.

And we did it all legally together with the industry when we had a political party in Sweden called the Pirate Party - which was a real party, with more than 7% of all votes. People thought we were crazy to work with the music industry. The general thinking was to just do whatever you wanted with music and then ask for forgiveness later.


A: Well, there are really two answers to that question. On the one hand, we're trying to keep doing better what we've been trying to do since we started Spotify - deliver great value to consumers and create value for artists by making sure that they are paid fairly for their amazing music and that we help them find new audiences in the process. At the same time, we're also working harder than ever to build ties to the creative community - artists, songwriters, producers and others - so that they understand how our business works and how committed we are to helping them succeed. And part of both of those things - creating value and communicating better - means that we are also focused on hearing from creators about how we can help them, how we can create new tools that use our platform to help them find new fans, connect with those fans, learn about their audiences, get them to live shows, and more.


A: Most people still describe their taste as either "everything" or a specific genre. The truth is, in our actual listening habits, most of us are very specific about what we want to listen to, but not by genre. Our habits and moments are what define our listening more than anything else. People want one kind of music when they're getting ready to go out on the weekend, another for dinner at home, something else for working out, sleeeping, and so on. And this "breaking down" of genre barriers opens up the way to much better, more interesting and more relevant programming - and music discovery.


A:I believe in focus. All of the companies you mention have music as a hobby, a very small part of their overall business. We do one thing and try to do it really well. This means we have a company 100% dedicated to finding the right content, personalizing it for you and serving it up with partners who are specialized in what they do. The big platform companies don't generally like partnering. We do. This opens up lots of doors. To put it another way, we are really focused on delivering the best possible music experience you can find. I'm not saying we don't think about the competition - of course we do, it would be crazy not to. But we think about them more in terms of how to make Spotfy so easy, so fun, and so relevant for our users that whether you wait on lines for every new Apple device, get your groceries from Amazon Prime, or use every Google mail and workplace app, you still want to listen to music on Spotify because it's the best experience there is.

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