What were the best and worst parts of 2014 for you?
We launched in almost 30 new countries. The growth in subscribers has been fantastic. And I became a father about a year ago, so watching my daughter grow up has been remarkable. Worst? On the one hand, the artist debates, because we want to do something that’s positive for artists. But [also] I’m an impatient guy, so while we’ve [added] almost 30 countries, we want to move faster and get the industry back to growth again.
What’s the takeaway from Taylor Swift’s decision to take her songs off Spotify? What did you learn and what did the public learn?
The public probably learned there’s something called Spotify, and that it’s not Pandora. What it has highlighted for us is we need to do a better job explaining to artists how streaming benefits them. The point that’s been lost is that Spotify’s the fastest-growing revenue source the industry has. There are many artists to whom, through the labels, we’re paying out millions a year already. Those check sizes will just keep increasing. I’m certain that if we can get the billion-people-plus that are consuming music online and move them into a model like Spotify, the industry would be considerably bigger than it is today.
A billion seems like a utopian number.
I think people discount piracy. We’ve grown accustomed to it, so [we’re] not really sure what we can do about it. But there’s a billion people doing it. If they contribute to a legal service of any kind, that’s a huge win.
Every article about Spotify talks about a potential IPO.
The rumors keep persisting, and I keep saying the same thing, which is we still haven’t made any decisions whatsoever. But we’re a private company and we have investors. We’ve got to figure out how we provide liquidity for our investors.
How does your in-house programming tool Truffle Pig work?
This year we bought a company called Echo Nest; during one of our hack weeks they put together Truffle Pig. If you have one or two items in a playlist it keeps suggesting interesting stuff you might want to add. But it allows you to customize the suggestions by saying, “I want something that’s more extreme,” or more acoustic or has better danceability. It’s an amazing tool if you’re into making playlists, and we’re thinking about how we can bring it to all the people that care about music.
What’s the best new music you heard this year?
I’ve been listening to Banks a lot and I hope more people will discover her. I was recently in Singapore and ended up seeing Mongolian hip-hop. I don’t remember the band’s name, but it was pretty surreal.
You mentioned your daughter. Are you going to take advantage of Sweden’s liberal paternity- leave policy and spend some time at home?
I wish I could, but I’m going to postpone that for a few years and put my head down and grow Spotify. I have two babies.
Yeah. Spotify is one and my daughter is the other.