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Spotify CEO won’t sell as his company criticises Apple


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Spotify is having a week in the headlines for various reasons.

Besides our piece yesterday on its axed plan to premium-window the new Radiohead album, there were two more stories on the company’s long-term exit strategy, and its current business challenges.

On that exit: CEO Daniel Ek has made it clear that he is not angling to sell Spotify to a bigger technology company – a prospect that has been generating industry chatter in recent weeks as people mull the company’s latest financial results.

“Not going to sell, no. My biggest advice for entrepreneurs is don’t ever sell,” Ek said at the Brilliant Minds conference in Stockholm, according to Bloomberg, which suggests he was thinking about the recent acquisitions of fellow Swedish startups King (of Candy Crush Saga fame) and Mojang (Minecraft), as well as of his own company.

Reuters had more quotes: “My selfish ambition with Spotify is just trying to show … that we can create one of those super companies here in Europe,” said Ek.

“The number one advice I tell everyone is ‘don’t sell’, because that’s the biggest problem we have. All these things could grow gigantic if you just kept the course and kept doing what you’re doing.”

Spotify certainly isn’t angling for a sale to Apple: in fact, it’s become the first streaming service to publicly criticise Apple’s new plans for iOS in-app subscriptions, which we reported on yesterday.

Apple may be dropping its revenue share of such payments from 30% to 15% after a subscriber has been paying for a year, but Spotify’s global head of corporate communications and public policy Jonathan Prince was not celebrating.

“It sounds like a nice gesture to developers, but it doesn’t get to the core of the problem with the Apple tax and its payment system. Unless Apple changes its rules, price flexibility is prohibited, which is why we can never provide special offers or discounts, and means we won’t have the ability to share any savings with our customers,” said Prince, in a statement sent to several outlets including Music Ally.

“And Apple still insists on inserting itself between developers and their customers, which means developers will continue to lack visibility into why customers churn – or even who qualifies as a long-term subscriber.”

There is certainly more to Apple’s new subscription system than dropping its cut: with iOS such an important platform for all the non-Apple streaming services, the devil will always be in the detail.

One more piece of good news for Spotify – plus other streaming services, and particularly Radiohead fans who use them – is that the band’s ‘In Rainbows’ album was finally made available to stream overnight. It’s the first time the digitally-pioneering album has been streamable.

Stuart Dredge

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