The people at Spotify spend a lot of time thinking and debating where the company will be in one to five years, CEO Daniel Ek, 29, says: "If you've articulated and communicated that well, I think you've created a basic framework where smart people feel empowered. My job, more than anything else, is to be the editor of what Spotify is and will be."
Spotify certainly appears well-positioned for the future. It expanded its footprint by launching in Austria in November, Germany in March and Australia and New Zealand in May. It has weathered criticism of its payouts to artists and labels while adding the Red Hot Chili Peppers' catalog and holdout albums by Adele, the Black Keys and Coldplay.
The distribution options keep changing, too. Spotify launched apps for its desktop app in November. There are now dozens of apps by services, magazines, record labels and even artists. And in June Spotify added free radio to its mobile app, competing directly with Pandora and Clear Channel while giving it another way to attract potential subscribers.