How Spotify Saved The Music Industry And Minted A Billionaire | Forbes

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A decade ago, Daniel Ek convinced labels and artists to stream their songs on Spotify, reviving the flatlining music industry. Now, after amassing a $4.4 billion fortune, he’s moving past pop stars, opening his superstreamer to storytelling, live talk and a new breed of audio creators in a bid to own the world’s digital eardrums.

The company has come a long way since Ek reluctantly threw on a suit and tie—and threw back a few whiskies—to pose for the cover of the first Forbes 30 Under 30 issue ten years ago. Back then, in January 2012, Spotify had just 500 employees, $300 million in sales and a valuation of $2 billion. The service had been available in America for only six months. Today, Ek’s superstreamer plays in 184 countries, has 7,400 employees and $9.7 billion in annual sales. Spotify went public in 2018, and Ek—who in 2012 had a paper fortune of $300 million—is now worth $4.4 billion.

“Spotify was the force that transitioned hundreds of millions of users from piracy to paying customers,” says Sean Parker, who, as cofounder of Napster, was considered the Blackbeard of the music business before becoming Facebook’s first president and a Spotify investor. “It’s no exaggeration to say that Daniel saved the music industry.”

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