Spotify CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek appeared on CBS This Morning on Tuesday – the day his company’s shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange – and explained how he persuaded Taylor Swift to bring her music back to Spotify last summer.
Ek barely addressed Spotify’s direct listing, instead praising the platform’s ability to bring more kinds of music more easily to more people. But he faced pointed questions from host Gayle King about staying true to his original mission, which, he said, was to make millions of songs accessible “in a legal way while at the same time compensating the artists.”
King took issue with the last part of that statement. “You stepped on some toes – the artists, let’s take Taylor [Swift] for instance, they thought they weren’t fairly compensated,” she noted. “You bruised a lot of people’s feelings. Now you and Taylor are back together. She’s got a song, ‘Love Story,’ that says ‘baby, just say yes’ – is that what you did?”
Ek played contrite and said that he took “full ownership” of Spotify’s public split with the singer. “I went to Nashville many, many times and talked to her team,” he added. “I spent more time directly explaining the model, why streaming mattered. And I think she saw how streaming is growing. I think she saw that fans were asking for it.”
“When the new album [Reputation] came up, [Swift] came to Stockholm and spent some time with our team there figuring out a way [to release her album] that made sense to her,” he added. In the end, Swift put Reputation on Spotify, but not until three weeks after its release date and helping her boost sales to 1.238 million equivalent units during opening week.
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King also pressed Ek on reports that Apple Music’s rapid growth might allow the service to catch and pass Spotify’s U.S. user base this year. In response, Ek showed a rare moment of self-assertiveness. “We are about twice the size of them,” he said. “I think we’ve still got some room.”
A loyal entrepreneur, Ek went one step further, suggesting that Spotify’s rivalry with Apple Music will benefit everybody in the end. “What we’ve found is, when we’ve got competition, it grows the market,” he said.
“When we’ve got competition, it actually grows the market… it’s easy to forget that just 3 years ago, even in the U.S., streaming wasn’t even a thing.” — @Spotify CEO @eldsjal $SPOT pic.twitter.com/lLF60ErAYP
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) April 3, 2018