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Avicii Manager Defends Spotify: ‘Too Many People Have the Wrong Idea About What Spotify Is’ (Guest Column)

Move over, haters: Avicii's manager defends the streaming service that helped put his star on the map.

Avicii‘s 2013 hit “Wake Me Up!” is the most-streamed song in Spotify history, with more than 339 million global streams to date. That success is due not only to the fact that it’s a great song, but also because from the start, we saw Spotify as our music partner, not just a streaming service and revenue source.

Too many people have the wrong idea about what Spotify is. It’s not a one-way street; it’s a two-way platform that allows you to creatively market your music while generating revenue, and it played an integral role in breaking Avicii stateside and exposing him to new audiences worldwide.

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Before the release of True, Avicii’s 2013 album — which includes the singles “Wake Me Up!” and “Hey Brother” — he was best-known in the United States for his club hits and from touring. As we began setting up the album, streaming services became an invaluable part of the marketing plan. Weeks before the album’s release, we set up a Spotify playlist for fans to subscribe to. More than 100,000 global listeners signed up to an empty playlist, which we soon filled with a medley of songs that would be on the album. Once “Wake Me Up!” came out, we encouraged our music friends and family to add the track to their Spotify play­lists, which helped spread the song to those who would have never heard it otherwise.

More than 18 months after the song’s release, streaming income from “Wake Me Up!” remains strong and promotion through Spotify creates a long tail that continues to lift catalog. Avicii experienced double-digit chart gains after debuting his exclusive Spotify New Year’s Eve playlist, One World Party. According to Billboard, his previous single “The Days” was up 71 percent overall and had an 83 percent increase in Spotify streams. Even more impressively, current single “The Nights” garnered 1 million streams in the States for the week ending Jan. 4, a 91 percent increase overall and a 148 percent jump in Spotify streaming. Catalog also got a boost, with his breakthrough “Levels” notching a 21 percent increase in streaming.

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As much as we are Spotify proponents, we won’t ever exclude other audiences. We have to be everywhere, and work to be creative in all our relationships.

Music creators are entitled to fair financial compensation and it’s important for managers, artists and songwriters to look at the long view: In Spotify’s home country of Sweden (my and Avicii’s homeland as well), digital accounted for nearly 70 percent of music industry revenue in 2013 — with subscription services representing 94 percent of the digital market — and helped grow that revenue for the third consecutive year, according to IFPI. As Spotify scales up in the States, the money paid out to artists and songwriters will only increase.

As much as we are Spotify proponents, we won’t ever exclude other audiences. We have to be everywhere. But Spotify can help get the conversation started. We also manage Cazzette, and in 2012, the Swedish DJ duo was the first act to release an album initially only on Spotify. We went exclusively with Spotify for the first three months of the album’s release because we wanted to create awareness to help launch an artist without a developed fan base. It was a successful campaign and we managed to have Cazzette spearhead a conversation about the music industry in the Wall Street Journal, Intelligent Life and Billboard, which was half the point.

Streaming is, for the foreseeable future, the optimal way of consuming digital content as the world grows more and more connected. According to Next Big Sound, there were more than 434 billion total music streams in 2014, up 95 percent from 2013. And an Edison Research report shows that teens spend more time streaming music than listening to AM/FM radio. Are you really going to say “no, thank you” to millions of Spotify users because you are waiting for the old way of doing business to return?

This article first appeared in the Feb. 14 issue of Billboard.