Spotify founder Daniel Ek joined LeWeb founder and host Loic Le Meur on stage in Paris earlier today to talk about the state of Spotify. The discussion focused on a wide range of topics, ranging from Spotify’s new platform, the company’s relationship with Facebook and why it took the company so long to launch in the United States. Spotify also announced a new radio app for Spotify that was built by the company’s team in New York.
The new radio app in Spotify allows users to skip unlimited songs, something Pandora doesn’t allow its users, of course. The new “Artist Radio” experience brings Spotify on par with services like MOG, which have long offered a radio experience. For Spotify, which always focused strongly on playlists, this is quite a bit of a departure from its regular user experience. To get access to this new feature, you have to download a preview version of Spotify.
Ek also announced that Spotify now has two and a half million paying users, most of which pay around 10 Euro per month. Spotify also announced that it added about 7 million new users since (and because of) the launch of its Facebook integration. Sharing, especially through Facebook, has become a major driver for Spotify’s growth and in Ek’s view, this kind of discovery service is now a central feature of the service. The company doesn’t have any immediate plans for an IPO.
Spotify’s origins, said Ek, were a reaction to the piracy problem – especially in Scandinavia. While users loved Napster, this model obviously didn’t work for the music industry. Spotify did not aim to disrupt the music industry, but just wanted to make life easier for the users. Indeed, he stressed that he basically wants music to become a utility just like water or electricity.
For Ek, the user experience is the most important thing about his product. Entrepreneurs have to focus on solving problems. While many told him that having to download a client to use Spotify would be a major problem. The reality was that users loved the product because it solved a problem and didn’t care about having to download an app on their computers.
Asked about how long it took Spotify to launch in the U.S., Ek noted, it took the company two years to launch because of its extended discussions with the record labels.
In an interesting anecdote, Ek also talked about getting Sean Parker as an investor. Parker, apparently, wrote Ek a very long email, explaining the parts of Spotify he loved and hated. This, said Ek, opened up a channel for the two which then resulted in Parker’s investment.
Ek’s Advice for Entrepreneurs
As for advice to European entrepreneurs, Ek argued that execution is everything. Location, to some degree, doesn’t really matter that much in this view. People, too, he noted “is everything.” Entrepreneurs, too, should try everything but not do everything. They should also be open to learn from the people the work with.