40 Under 40: Daniel Ek


CEO, Spotify


Daniel Ek, 30, is practically synonymous with the new digital music business. Five years after launch, Spotify, the on-demand music subscription service he co-founded, has expanded to 28 markets and has more than 6 million paid subscribers and 24 million-plus active users. Although not yet available in Japan, where subscription services are few, Spotify operates in 14 of the world’s top 20 digital music markets. The service is improving its user experience as it globally expands. “Our No. 1 priority is fostering music discovery across all platforms,” he says. It rolled out a Web-based player that augments discovery and purchased discovery startup Tunigo in May. The new ways of finding music and tracking artists have been an improvement over the social-based discovery of Spotify’s early years. Ek says his biggest achievement in the past year is the growth in money paid to rights holders. “In the first four years since Spotify launched, we paid back $500 million, and now we’re on course to pay out $500 million in 2013 alone.”