He was a self-made geek and clubbing "champagne-sprayer" when he found his calling: hacking the music business on a mass scale. Now he's facing the fight of his professional life, defending his business model against Taylor Swift, Universal & Apple.

"It's hard to criticize someone who's hugely successful," says Daniel Ek. The Spotify CEO is sitting inside a diner-style booth, in one of the many thoughtfully placed nooks at the company's 100,000-square-foot Manhattan office, the day after a May 20 press event during which he announced the service's new music recommendation and video-streaming features. He's not referring to himself.

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