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Spotify’s Daniel Ek brought music streaming to the masses

Ek is No. 17 on the Recode 100.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

People used to pay $15 for a CD with one song they liked. Then they stopped paying for music at all, courtesy of Napster. Now 60 million people are paying Spotify $10 a month (give or take) for all the music they can stream.

It’s a massive shift in consumer behavior, and it has propelled Daniel Ek’s company to the point where it may actually go public, though the when and how are up in the air. Intriguingly, the Swedish entrepreneur is considering a “direct” IPO, which would cut out Wall Street banks, and just sell his shares directly to the public.

Financing aside, Ek still needs to prove that digital music can be a profitable business — so far, Spotify has been a money-losing operation, and his biggest competitors at Google, Apple and Amazon all use music as a loss-leader. So Ek will either have to find a way to cut his losses or perhaps find a new way to monetize the direct relationship he has with a very large worldwide user base.

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