Spotify isn’t often thought of as a pillar of the New York tech scene. But when the Swedish company (finally) came to the US, it chose to planted its flag here, and not in the Valley. That’s significant, and part of the reason I’m so excited about this Thursday’s PandoMonthly with co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek.
Not only does Spotify fly under the radar as a New York company, but Ek does the same as a founder. Coverage of the company rarely seems to focus on him, or his entrepreneurial journey, which is what our PandoMonthly events are all about.
That’s not to say oft-glowing coverage of Spotify in tech blogs should be written off — what the company has done is impressive. There are hundreds of music streaming apps out there. I get pitched on a new one each week. And they all face the same challenge: getting to scale in order to lower the astronomical costs of licensing music from the rights holders.
And yet, Spotify managed to entered a crowded market, late, and blow many of the existing services out of the water, accumulating 3 million users in its first year here. In a matter of months, I went from explaining this cool new music service to my non-techie friends, to inadvertently sharing my questionable taste in music with every person I know, because they’d all joined the service. This looks like a startup dream scenario, and it’s never even an iota as easy as it appears from the outside.
Add in the fact that Spotify’s success isn’t as simple as that of, say, a certain photo-sharing app everyone loves. Success for Spotify is tied to its ability to upend a reluctant music industry, which hasn’t ever quite gotten over the blows delivered by Napster in the 90s. So often entrepreneurs in this situation turn to bitter “us versus them” rhetoric when it comes to disruption — witness Uber versus the TLC or even Pandora versus Congress and traditional radio.
But everything I read about Ek seems tied to this altruistic vision of fighting the real bad guys — pirates — with a modern, viable option that consumers like and record labels can live with. I can’t imagine it’s been that rosy every step of the way (nor will it be in the future), which is why this event promises to be a fascinating tale of entrepreneurship and the balancing act one faces with success. Ek isn’t exactly a staple in New York’s conference or party scenes, so this is a fairly rare chance to hear him speak. We’re thankful that our awesome venue, Projective Labs in the Lower East Side, is recovered from Sandy and ready for the event.
We have around 30 tickets left — get yours here.