01x04 - Episode #1.4

Episode transcripts for the TV show, "The Playlist". Aired: October 13, 2022 - present.*
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A Swedish tech entrepreneur and his partners set out to revolutionize the music industry with a streaming platform.
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01x04 - Episode #1.4

Post by bunniefuu »

Code. It can be beautiful.

When I learned my first programming
language, I saw that it was... pure.

No ambiguities.
Nothing to interpret, nothing to convey.

It just... is.

And for me, it's part of my DNA.

The world we live in is incomplete.
Fragile. Out of focus.

In the binary world,
there are only ones and zeros.

That... is perfection.

All you need to get started is an idea.

And then slowly, one command at a time,

you create something new.

Something pure and... true,

that didn't exist before.

Something that never lies and
never pretends to be something it isn't.

A universe out of nothing.

You take the ugly chaotic world we live in
and you make it perfect.

Andreas? Andreas?

You were going to show us
the latest updates.

Anyone could have answered
their questions. In their sleep.

No one cares about my ideas.

We are interested in your ideas. But
we're also interested in making a profit.

Yeah, I get that. Check this out.

What is this?

I've started constructing
a more immersive open-world experience.

This can give our users something
to aspire to, to dream about, to create...

Well, our users are
12- and 13-year-old girls. Get it?

All they have to do is play with the dolls
and buy our f*cking add-ons.

Fame, fashion and friends, Andreas.
Don't forget that.

Oh, sorry... This is Daniel.
Daniel's going to be a consultant here.

Daniel gets business. Listen to him, okay?

I like what you said. Nice.

Yeah, but who cares?

-He just wants to sell more add-ons.
-Can I see?

I just thought a tech start-up
would be different.

That they would be interested
in some new ideas. Take some risks.

This is awesome. How did you get the dolls
to react so quickly?

I've built a new layer,
so now there's a feedback loop

to anticipate what users want
before they want it.


But, don't worry, it hasn't gone
through the boss, so I'll delete it.

Why? It's brilliant. If Mattias doesn't
appreciate it, that's his problem.

-Except he is the boss.
-So? "Unboss" him then.

If you want to be creative, quit.
Do your own thing, be your own boss.

People like me, we don't run businesses.
We consult, advise, maybe are CTOs.

Says who? I just did it,

started a tech company with only coders.
Sold it for 10 million.

Worth considering.

So this is your place?
What are you reading?

The Gutenberg Galaxy.
Marshall McLuhan. What's it about?

It's about...

how technology made it possible
for knowledge to spread in new ways.

There was no point in learning to read
when there were no books.


But then a whole new wave
of information came along and so...

Everyone could have access to it
if they wanted to.

Access made people consume more?

Exactly. Mattias and the others
will never get it.

They think they get it,
but we've grown up with technology.

It's been a part of us
since before we could even talk.

We can't let them decide
what we do with it.

Check this out.

This is a streaming system for free music.
It's exactly what you're talking about.

A way to listen
to every song ever released,

so that everyone in the world
can have access to all music.

Nice. But you do know
we already have Pirate Bay, right?

Glad you brought that up. Tell me
how to download a song from Pirate Bay.

That's easy as pie.
You just go to the website,

search for the torrent you want,
download it, open it in a client...

Quite a few different files, right?
You have to go through them one by one.

Yes. True. So you sort out what
you don't want and then it downloads...

If it downloads and isn't a virus.

Then you have to decide
which folder, what to name it,

how to list the songs
so they play in the right order,

sorting them by artist or album...

and all of this you have to store
on your hard drive.

This is what I'm talking about.
All this enthusiasm,

all what Pirate Bay has built,
we're taking to a whole new level.

It's what the world needs,
freedom from record companies.

It will be better than Pirate Bay.

At the start, we were just an idea...

It's beautiful, but it'll never work.
Your investors will make you compromise.

Good thing I'm the investor then.
Everything I earn will be put into it.

Every day... Every day
that we stand up to them,

the authorities begin to realize
that we're unstoppable.


You know what we're doing here?
We're creating history.

Look... Come with me
and I'll show you. All right?

This is yours?

Welcome to Spotify headquarters!

Here we'll build
the world's most beautiful music site.

-And you want me?
-I want you to help me.

To help me build the kind of company
that can create brilliance.


Oh, that's Martin. Martin!

Don't worry, he... He looks like
one of them, but he's one of us.

Andreas, nice to meet you!
My name is Martin Lorentzon.


I know your boss.

He says you're incredibly good,
but a pain in the ass.

We need a pain in the ass.
I want people who think in new ways,

who understand that a new era
requires new approaches.

Welcome aboard.

Welcome aboard?

You are employee number one. CTO.

You'll own more of it
than anyone except me and Martin.

So how should we design it?
What do you need?

Okay. The coders will sit in the middle.

Everything flows from here,
the ideas, the creativity.

We're going to need more ethernet cables,
and power straight down from the ceiling.

And everyone on the team will be equal.
No hierarchy, no titles.

If two people think differently,
it shouldn't matter who is higher up.

Best idea wins, no matter what.

So who will be on the team?

You have to let me handpick them.
We can't use regular coders.

To make the best site in the world,
we need the elite.

People who would never join
a regular start-up.

We need g*n Kreitz.
I met him at uni - computer science.

The best programmer in the world.

And Fredrik Niemelä, prodigy.

The only one with a team
that could challenge g*n's.

Jon Åslund,
Mattias Arrelid, Andreas Mattsson.

And a great designer, too...

Rasmus Andersson would be perfect.

We'll create the world's best coding team.

Like seven samurai, but coders.

This'll be great!

God, you look so handsome.

Brilliant, then! Okay, here we go...

There it is! The money picture! That's it.

Spotify is about one thing.


Access gives freedom. Access makes users
independent of the music industry...

And speed. If there's one thing users hate

about Pandora or Last FM,
it's the buffering.

You don't use Google
because it's the best,

you use it because it's the fastest.

If we are to succeed with Spotify,
speed is key. Don't forget that!

-Access and speed.
-Mhm. Let's do this!


When you start programming,
you realize there are no shortcuts.

You have to dare to get your hands dirty.

A little code under your fingernails.

A computer is like a child
who doesn't know anything.

I have to teach her.
And what I say means anything.

If my instructions are illogical,

incomplete or inadequate,
you will get a bug.

And the bug
may cause the program to crash.

-Come on!

-Yes, yes, yes, yes. Come on.

You must. Come, come, come!

Yes, hi! I would like to introduce
my good friend Andreas.

He's the quiet type, but says more
with his eyes than a thousand words could.

Okay. What are his eyes saying right now?

Order whatever you want.

Hi. Well...

He is... Um...



Have you looked
at any congestion control algorithms?

-No. No.

That has to be the weirdest
pick-up line in world history.

Eh... What...
What are you interested in? Beer?

Medical science. I study.
I only work here at weekends.

Okay. Yeah, right, cell biology.

-So what are you having?

Give me something you would go for.


So, so... Cell biology. Tell me about it.

The cell is the most remarkable
of all organisms in biology.


It recreates itself, regulates itself.

It's like a little factory that produces
whatever is needed to keep it going,

and it renews parts that need to be
replaced. It kind of services itself.

And if needed, the production
can be changed in an instant.

All the recipes needed to produce
what the factory creates

are encoded in the cell's genome.

And the cool thing about it all

is that it doesn't
need any... blueprints or...

...builders or material...

That was beautiful.



What would you say if I asked you out?

Khovd? What the hell is that?

No clue, but we have to go there.
We have to go to Mongolia.


The globe decides. That's the rule.

So, tell me... What were you tech nerds
celebrating at the bar tonight?

A new streaming service.

Is there any action in that?

Well, yes, actually.
The record companies and the pirates...

They all try to stop us.

So Spotify will create
a world without intermediaries.

Where music can flow freely,
like water or electricity.

Where people can upload,
listen to whatever they want...

Create, share, whatever they want...
It won't cost anything.

That was beautiful.

It's ready.

Test it.


Go on, test something else.


We've built a smoother, faster P2P system.

We've greatly reduced the delay,
and, well, now the searches are...

It's too slow.

This is something of a masterpiece.

But I don't care!

500 milliseconds is too slow.

Why would I bother clicking on a song
if I have to wait 500 milliseconds for it?

-How long is acceptable?

Zero? That's impossible
and Daniel knew that, too.

The delay between
when you click on a link on the internet

and when content is sent from a server,
is affected by several factors.

It depends on the amount of content,
but also the type of internet connection,

the load on the network, the distance
a signal has to travel in a cable.

I could streamline by adapting
the structure and finding some shortcuts,

but really it's just the amount of content
that you have control over.

Daniel! Look at this, only 12 month's
warranty and it's at 75,000.

-That's a colossal amount.


Okay, here's the deal...
We can't afford to do this on servers.

I've built the system on CP servers.

We can't afford as many servers
as we would need to scale up.

You have to build it as a P2P network.

So... Why am I totally speechless
right now?

Okay, to explain, I need
to get a bit technical. Try to keep up.

To build a streaming service
like Spotify in 2006,

you really only had two options.

Number one: To use servers.
Okay, I'm a server.

This is me. I have access to a database.

You can think of it as a big pile of CDs.

My only job is to serve you songs
from these CDs. This is you.

When you ask me to,
I'll pick a CD out of the pile,

and send you the song you want,
from beginning to end, a bit at a time,

just like you're used to listening
to music, but as fast as hell!

The problem is that it's expensive.

Servers are expensive to buy,
and more expensive to run.

They use a lot of electricity,
and they get hot,

so you need more electricity to run
the fans that cool the servers. Okay.

That's why Daniel asked me a moment ago
to use option number two,

building a peer-to-peer network.

I'll explain that, too.

Okay, peer-to-peer was the invention

that laid the foundation
for all the services

like Kazaa, Napster, Limewire
and of course Pirate Bay.

Now we don't have a server anymore,
just a bunch of confused users,

who are somehow connected
to each other via the internet.

All the internet-connected computers
on this network

are each other's equals. They are peers.

Okay. The problem is
that when we lost the server,

we lost contact with the database.

The whole world's music
is no longer available.

But the users have
a few different records each,

and if they're willing
to share with each other,

we have a nice communist society
on the internet,

but unlike communism,
this idea really works.

Now, when you want a specific song,
you first ask your neighbors,

"Please, do any of you have the song?"

There are billions of songs and only a few
neighbors, so they'll probably say no.

But they can ask their neighbors,
who ask their neighbors,

until you finally find someone who has
the song and starts sending it to you.

Spotify doesn't have to buy
lots of expensive servers,

but the disadvantage is
that it takes an agonizingly long time.

It's a cheap solution, not a good one.

Had Daniel been a coder,
he would have known,

that he was asking me for the impossible.

He has a tendency to do that.

I'll try.






You must come. Bring your laptop.

What? Why?

I know where Per Sundin is tonight.
We have a chance to pitch.

Yes. I have to go.

What? Now?

Yes. Sorry.

I'm trying to speed it up, but I'm kind
of working against the very essence of...

You can do it.

We should get some experts
to check if it's even possible...

Andreas, of course it's possible.

If anyone can do it, it's you. Okay?

I should be able
to optimize the search itself.


But even so, there are ten more layers
that are too slow...

There he is!

Give me your laptop.

Free? What the hell makes you
think I'd be interested in free music?

What the hell is wrong
with your generation? Huh?

Music can never be free.

If I get another one
of these f*cking pitches,

I'm gonna make it my personal mission
to crush your little shitty companies.

You got that?

I hope I've been
very, very, very clear with you.

Just make it fast, Andreas.
I want him to come crawling back.

-Did he really throw it on the ground?


He is... a little unstable right now.

He wants it to be faster.

I don't even know
if it's theoretically possible.


Sometimes when the heart
can't pump blood fast enough,

the body finds ways to compensate.

The arteries sort of reshape themselves

to create the pressure
the circulatory system needs.

So I don't know, but maybe you can
come up with an invention or something?

The battle between
the record companies and Pirate Bay

has now entered a new phase.

At five o'clock this morning, police
led by prosecutor Henrik Pontén

stormed the underground bunker
where Pirate Bay had its servers.

What do you think
about the Pirate Bay raid?

It's welcome but late.

It's nice that the Swedish Government
has realized they're not freedom fighters,

just ordinary criminals.

I hope they get the punishment
they deserve.

We continue with foreign news.

Hurricane Katrina,
which h*t last week in Louisiana,

has caused $60 billion worth of damage.

Around 600 people are still missing,
and the number of deaths...

...that Pirate Bay
had everything in one place.

Pirate Bay being prosecuted?

The record companies pushed for this.

Yes, and?

They're pushing for it, and Sundin
as well. We have to negotiate.

We'll have to talk to them.

No! They're the bad guys here,
not Pirate Bay.

We've all used these websites
since we were kids.

We know the people who created them,
we respect them.


The people who create the technology
you need, care about things like this.

They care about who'll control it.

I came to Spotify
because culture should be free.

Andreas, Spotify is a business.

A business?

I don't want to be part of a business that
compromises with the record companies.

If we make a deal with them, we do it
on our terms, not theirs. Or not at all.

I think it was at this moment,

when I confronted Daniel, that the whole
dynamic at Spotify began to change.

What did I tell you?
A company needs one leader.

It's okay,
Andreas just needs to get it out.

Hey, I met a friend from Gothenburg,

who said he worked with a crazy coder,
like you and Andreas.


Ludvig Strigeus.

...because in principle, it's trial
and error, that seemed to work the best.

Maybe we can work on that.

Or working on this peer-search
might also be something that we...

Hey, Ludvig.


I heard about your work. Sounds cool.

So, now you guys
can all welcome Ludvig to the team.

He's just agreed to join Spotify
as a consultant.

And we are very grateful
and happy about that!


It is interesting.

Can we talk for a minute?

Ludvig Strigeus? Without saying anything,
not asking, consulting?

You should be thanking me. No one knows
peer-to-peer better than Ludvig.

Okay. Fine, but, uh...
Is this because I expressed my opinion?

No, Andreas. We just bought uTorrent from
Ludvig. We'll be able to use his code.

Hey! He's still part of your team.
You're the CTO.

Why didn't you ask me?

The best idea wins, right? Your policy.
He'll run the front end, you the back end.

Andreas. How long are you going
to be like this?

Go to sleep. I need to think about things.

What's up?

-g*n has an idea.

What if this speed problem
can't be solved with P2P?

It's possible with a server,
but Daniel said we have to use P2P.

We'll use P2P. That's what works best
and that's the way it should be.

But let's say this, um...

Fredrik likes Otis Redding.

The system can figure out that he likes
Marvin Gaye and Wilson Pickett, too.

The system prepares and uploads them,
and then buffers the songs when it's time.

We're prepared before the search.

But 10% of the time

he decides he doesn't want to listen
to Detroit Soul anymore.

He wants to listen to something else,
Vivaldi or Megadeth.

It takes too long.
A peer-to-peer system can't do it.

No, exactly - boom!

We switch from a peer-to-peer system
to a server.

Just for that one search.

Just for that search.

Like a body switching systems to keep
blood pressure steady. Nice one, g*n!

We have a hybrid system.


Essentially, it's still peer-to-peer.

It's convenient and easy to scale up.

But 10% of the time, only when needed,
we have the option to switch to a server,

load the first few seconds from there
and then switch back to peer-to-peer.

Even unexpected searches are saved.
Next time the system works better.

It's amazing.

It's the most sophisticated
music player ever built.

It's smart, it's smooth, it's fast.


It's too slow. On unexpected searches
there is a slight delay.

Now we're at 250 milliseconds.

The human ear perceives anything under 200
milliseconds as instantaneous.

-That's 0,05 seconds...
-And that's not good enough.

This is because of the TCP/IP.

I don't know if you know how it works,
but basically it's internet architecture.

We have to wait for an ACK
from the client,

otherwise we get packet loss.
That's a red light.

It is your job to find a way.

But that's how
the whole f*cking internet works!

You're asking for the impossible!

If we design a car,
we can make the engine bigger

and the wheels spin faster,

but we can't build a new road,

because you don't understand
the technology!

Listen, Andreas...

I gave you this opportunity.

I backed you.

So either you build the player I want...

...or you can leave.

How are you?

Daniel is the boss. Everyone knows that.

The boss...


I know.

When I was a kid...

I have always been the nerd.

And... I tried, I...

At school, I was too much and too little,

and I had to learn to accept that people
like me, we don't have friends.

But I fantasized...

about finding my g*ng. My avengers.

People who thought like me,
who wanted the same things as me.

Well... Maybe I'm just too...

Give me that.


We know that when our server
starts sending data to the client,

it's like when a car pulls up
at an intersection and gets a red light.

But what do you do
when you see the light about to turn red?

You accelerate.

The idea is to slow down,
but everyone speeds up.

-But we can't...?
-Yes, we can.

We clone the TCP/IP,

and we do our own implementation
of flow and congestion control.

A big f*cking congestion window
and no slow start at all.


Our only problem is that the timeout
is too strict for our purpose.

It tries to save us from sending data
faster than the network can handle.

Yes, of course we will get some packet
loss, but nobody needs to know about that.

What does that mean in plain language?

Okay, here's the deal.
The Internet is built to be perfect.

No data should be lost.

For the vast majority of purposes,
that's absolutely perfect.

The defense industry built it.
They have to stop at the red light.

Because if they accidentally crash,
all the data is lost.

But f*ck that. f*ck the Pentagon.

We're Spotify, if we crash a little bit,
it doesn't matter.

The tiny part of the song that gets lost,
no one will notice it.

It's simply not audible.

We will build the first protocol
that breaks the rules.

The world's first
to be imperfect on purpose.

When we see the red light,
we won't slow down.

We will accelerate.

If we lose a tiny part of the song,
we don't care.

Let's do it!

This is a brand new protocol.

g*n and Fredrik applied
for a patent this morning.

Whatever happens, we've created
a nice little piece of computer history.

A unique network protocol.

The best-designed, most user-friendly,
most complete music player ever.


It's f*cking perfect!



sh*t, you guys should be so proud! Wow.

We got it!

Thanks. Does Lisa still work here?

She's taken a few weeks off.

I'm not sure when she'll be back.

Okay, thanks.

-Have you heard Ama's fancy new title?

Vice President of Engineering at Spotify.

Daniel is reorganizing.

Fredrik has also been given a new title:
Product Development Director.



-Can I have a quick word?


Yes. It's needed after two years.

So you are giving everyone titles?

Head of Engineering, Vice President?

Isn't that what we weren't supposed to do?

This will make everything more efficient.

I want everyone to report to me,
the whole coding team.

Report to you? This is about you... again?

I have to sell this idea,
so I have to have some control.

I know what we need
and I need people to get that.

Well, I think you're so busy
being the boss

that you're missing what Spotify is,
and what it could be.

-I don't know what that means.
-I was your first employee for a reason.

Andreas, maybe life
isn't about employment.

Maybe it's about a special project
that you get to do,

and when it's done, then...
It is what it is.


Sophia... Who is she?

Petra Hansson, she's a lawyer.

But we've already got a lawyer.

Petra will handle the deal
with the record companies.

Daniel. We have some new functionality
that I think you'll want to see.

On the left,

the artist page is as before,
and on the right, as it is now.

Our beta testers have given us user data

that allows us to customize
the whole experience for them.

-This is f*cking good!
-Yes, this is unbelievable.

It finally gives us a real edge
over the record companies.

-I'm not giving this to them.

-Why not? These are great prospects for...
-We'd be playing right into their hands.

The whole point of Spotify was
to share power more equally in the market.

We can't give the record companies
more power.

Please, Daniel, they own the music
you're collecting data from.


This is how it is:
We will have to pay their one-off fee.

The question is if we can keep
any level free at all.

What? Are you discussing a paywall here?

We're discussing whether we can keep
any part of Spotify free.

The music is already free,
it's already on Pirate Bay.

Okay, Andreas, can we...

No, hang on.

When we started this,
we all agreed that it had to be free.

The younger generation
expects it to be free.

Okay, you've pitched this
as a teenage dream.

You want to do it your way, the easy way.

But it's not a sustainable business model.

That's why we're trying to find one now.

We launched with an idea, a principle.
I don't know if you understand that.

-Good luck taking it to the bank.
-The bank? The bank?

Why do you let the bank run your life?
Who cares what they think?

Now, listen.

Either you accept that you have
to make major concessions,

or we're done working together.

Okay. Then we're done here.

-Thank you.
-What are you doing?

It's been great,
but I can't work like this.



Daniel, we have the technology now.

We've built something beautiful
that everyone would want to use.

We don't have any money.

-We'll go bankrupt.
-No, we won't.

It'll be a bit tough, but if we
launch now, even without rights,

we'll crush other streaming services
within weeks.

The record companies
will sue our asses off.

They need us. We will be too big to fail.

I want Petra to come back.


I want Petra to come back.

It's still Spotify. It's still our thing.

Really? Daniel only gave up 20%
of the company.


Three bottles of champagne.

-Are you okay?

Tech is changing.
But people will always be people.

They need a leader, a star
that shines brighter than the others.

No, this is the opposite
of what we said we would do.

This is reality, Andreas.

Stop fighting it,
and you'll get rich as hell from this.

Huh? Show some leadership, come on.

It's not that, we have a responsibility.
It was you, me and Daniel in the office.

I own more of Spotify
than anyone else after you two.

No, you don't.

We needed Ludvig, so we gave him 5%.


It can be beautiful.

When I learned
my first programming language,

I saw that it was... pure. No ambiguities.

Spotify was the purest,
most beautiful thing I ever created.

Yet all the layers of code,
all the algorithms,

turned out to be more and more inadequate,

and more illogical than I could bear.

There were bugs that left me stuck
in perpetual segmentation errors.

I was in the wrong place in the memory.

It was time to do a hard reset
of the whole system

and realize that everyone is disposable.

That's not exactly how it happened...
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