Spotify didn’t start out as the world’s largest streaming music service. It was founded by two struggling musicians hoping to prove that their idea could change the way people listened to music forever, and it soon became the most successful startup in the history of Sweden. The Playlist: Spotify’s Unlikely Rise to Success tells the story of how it happened, from its founding in 2006 to its initial public offering in 2018, along with exclusive interviews with Daniel Ek, Martin Lorentzon, Jonathan Forster and other key players involved in Spotify’s history. The Playlist: Spotify’s Unlikely Rise to Success

The Playlist: Spotify’s Unlikely Rise to Success

The Playlist premiered on Netflix on 13 October 2022

The feature-length documentary follows Daniel Ek, Martin Lorentzon, and Ludvig Strigeus through their journey from conceptualizing what would become one of today’s most popular music streaming services to ultimately its acquisition by Apple Inc. in 2026. It features interviews with some of music industry’s biggest names including Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Taylor Swift. The movie is peppered with fun facts about Spotify’s humble beginnings as well as behind-the-scenes tidbits that you never knew about your favorite artists like Drake and Halsey. You don’t want to miss it!

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Cast

Edvin Endre, Ulf Stenberg, Gizem Erdogan, Joel Lützow and Christian Hillborg. Although these are all pseudonyms – it’s a fact that every character is based off a real person at Spotify during its formative years. (With one exception — don’t read too much into that!) The series includes both real events and situations as well as fictionalized characters and scenarios. It highlights many of the real struggles behind an innovative company like Spotify but places them in an alternative time-line with fictional characters where they may have played out differently than they did in reality. In doing so we hope to tell a compelling story about human nature and how people can react when faced with change.

Part I: Chapter One – Spontaneous creative spark

The idea for a music streaming service started as a question for Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon during a road trip between Stockholm and Oxford. The question was could you technically design a service that would allow people to easily listen to music on demand through their computer at any time? Naturally, Ek, Lorentzon and [Co-Founder] Ludvigström answered yes. (After all, they were computer science majors). Then came another question how could they make money off of it? In order for them to succeed in starting their own business, they would need outside funding.

The Playlist: Spotify's Unlikely Rise to Success
The Playlist: Spotify’s Unlikely Rise to Success

Part I: Chapter Two – First steps in creating something new

In 2005, Daniel Ek found himself on vacation with nothing much to do. Sitting on a couch in his hotel room and listening to his favorite music through headphones, he was frustrated by how hard it was to find a song he wanted to hear. It took me several minutes before I could even figure out what I wanted, says Ek. And then I’d have my mom sitting next to me saying ‘How can you not just buy an album? It’s so cheap today!’  But that wasn’t a viable solution for him.

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Part I: Chapter Three – Unforeseen obstacles

In Chapter 3 of Sven Carlsson & Jonas Leijonhufvud’s book Spotify Untold, one reads about Spotify’s first year on Apple and Windows. It describes Daniel Ek being forced to remove all references to Free Music Streaming from his website, since Apple wasn’t comfortable with someone undercutting them on price; and how Daniel Ek was surprised at how many people would try Spotify then immediately go back to iTunes, assuming it was impossible for free music streaming services like Spotifiy or Pandora Radio to survive. This was an unexpected obstacle that made life very hard in the beginning, but ended up forcing the company (Spotify) into uncharted waters that would eventually help them win over their competitors.

Part II : Chapter Four – Finding a middle ground

For You and Your Family.You’ve probably heard by now that Thom Yorke was one of 16,000 users who uploaded his new record , Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, to BitTorrent last week. Most people saw it as a revolutionary gesture from an artist traditionally opposed to selling music directly via digital services, like iTunes or Amazon MP3. But as Joe Pessia wrote for Complex last year, for artists like Radiohead there is an undeniable upside when it comes to giving away your music online. Because although fewer fans may buy albums anymore, those who do will often end up paying much more than they would have otherwise.

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Part II : Chapter Five – Losing your way

One Love is all you need. 2007-2009 The company founders leave Järvle and begin work on a project that later will become Spotify. Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon buy back their original idea, Wimp, from TeliaSonera. The name of Wimp is changed to Spotify, and a prototype is developed in Silicon Valley by Renaud Leblond & Gustav Söderström.

The Playlist: Spotify's Unlikely Rise to Success
The Playlist: Spotify’s Unlikely Rise to Success

Part II : Chapter Six – Never give up!

In 2007, Swedish entrepreneurs Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon were about to give up. They had already spent half a million dollars on their Spotify idea and after years of hard work, they weren’t any closer to finding funding. But they didn’t give up. Instead they shared their idea with an old friend – Niklas Zennström. In 2006 Zennström had left his successful IT company, Skype, and started his own venture capital firm.

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