Northzone

Growth investors since 1996

Daniel Ek


Daniel Ek started his first business when he was just 14. Today, the 28 year old founder of the music streaming service Spotify, is arguably "The Most Important Man In Music" according to Forbes.

Daniel Ek, who previously belonged to the "lost generation" who saw no value in paying for music, is the new hope for the music industry through his newest venture, Spotify. For much of the 2000s, the record industry faced a conundrum: People thought access would someday replace ownership, but access-based services weren't connecting with consumers. Piracy flourished. People stopped paying for music.

Then came Spotify. "Our role is about getting the lost generation into paying for music again," CEO Daniel Ek says. Co-founded by Ek with Martin Lorentzon in 2006 and launched in October 2008, Spotify quickly turned a moribund business model into the most exciting digital music service since iTunes, and it's now available in 12 European markets and the United States.

Spotify's growth and footprint set it apart from its peers. By November 2011 it had 10 million active users globally with 2.5 million subscribers to its ad-free, premium service. Since its inception, the company has paid $200 million to rights-holders, Ek claims. Ek's influence was evident well before Spotify came to the United States.

Thousands of people attended his keynote at SXSW Interactive in 2010-a full 16 months before the service even launched on the biggest music market in the world- the US. Spotify's influence has grown exponentially in the months since its US launch: Suddenly, a company not named Apple wields the power to shape digital music's future.