Daniel Ek, the 29-year-old founder of Spotify, wasn’t inspired by Pandora or Facebook when it came to building his popular streaming and very-social music service. No, it was piracy that Ek wanted to beat.
“I was born in Sweden, and in Sweden we are known for the piracy services,” Ek said in an interview with ABC News’ John Muller in an ABC News / Yahoo! News Newsmakers interview. “I decided I wanted to create a product that was better than piracy.”
You could say it’s mission accomplished for Ek. Spotify has over 20 million active monthly users and has quickly become one of the most popular digital destinations to listen to music on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Ek himself got his start in music.
“I had two passions growing up — one was music, one was technology. I tried to play in a band for a while, but I was never talented enough to make it. And I started companies,” Ek said. “One day came along and I decided to combine the two — and there was Spotify.”
He makes it sound easy, but a lot of negotiation has gone into the process of working with artists, labels and Facebook.
“Eventually, we convinced the record labels by getting them to use the product, as well, and from there on we continued to grow,” he said.
The service doesn’t only continue to grow in users, but also features. Last week, Spotify redesigned its entire front page with a new interface and new features that allows users to follow brands and influencers, including ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” The “GMA” team will publish its own playlists now and users will be able to follow them.
So what else is ahead for the service? Naturally, Ek was a bit reserved about sharing plans, but when asked if Spotify’s model could extend to other services, such as books or movies, he said maybe. The focus now, though, is really on music.
“There are half a billion people that listen to music online and the vast majority are doing so illegally. But if we bring those people over to the legal side and Spotify, what is going to happen is we are going to double the music industry and that will lead to more artists creating great, new music.”
But there’s also some old music Ek has his eye on. He told us that he is working hard to bring the Beatles library of songs and albums to the service.It was only in 2010 that Apple was able to get Beatles added to the iTunes store.
Ultimately, Ek said his goal is clear: “For us it is about getting it out to more people. We launched in the U.S. one year ago. We want to bring music to every single person and bring it to every moment of their life.”