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01x06 - Episode #1.6

Posted: 10/28/22 06:37
by bunniefuu
Checking your pulse?

-Checking your pulse?

No. Thanks for coming on a Sunday.

No worries.

Is Jim here?

-Yes, he's waiting in the pavilion.
-Okay, good.


-Good to see you. How are you?
-I'm great, and you?

-Good. Thanks for coming.
-No problem.

Always a pleasure to come over here
and get down to the nitty-gritty.

-How's Arsenal doing?

Terrible, they lost again.

-They'd be better off with you in charge.
-Your words, not mine.


As you know, we have an urgent need
to maximize revenue,

or at least bring down our cost base.

If this business is gonna thrive,
we have to reduce the cost of the music.

That's why we spent the last few years
testing Discovery Max,

and now, finally,
we have some useful data.

Yeah, and...?

-f*cking fantastic.

The artists have seen their followers go
through the roof. They f*cking love this.

-When they get the promotion boost,

they are seeing listener growth
of 40, 50, even 100%.

Concert sales and merch sales
are going up...

Everybody who signed up to it
said they'd do it again.

Why don't we roll it out
across the whole company?

Because it's highly contentious.

We only promote bands that agree
to hand back a cut of their royalty.

The artists consent to everything.
We're not charging anyone a penny.

It's a win-win situation, a new business
model for a new kind of music industry.

The Musicians' Union calls it payola.

And Senator Madison Landy of the US Senate

wrote Spotify a letter expressing
significant concern

that we are participating
in anti-competitive activities.

Well, that's not f*cking good.

Bottom line is that 70% of everything
we bring in on the music,

goes straight back
to the record companies. 70%!

What other business
has to deal with those kind of costs?

Discovery Max is
Spotify doing things its own way.

It's us showing innovation,
reshaping music.

It's us putting power
into musicians' hands.

By halving their royalties.

If we don't push the boundaries,
we are not gonna survive.

Listen, what you and your team have done
is amazing, and I love it,

but we do need to take it
step by step. I mean...

For now, let's just... let's roll it out
in a way that keeps everyone onside, okay?


-How was the meeting?
-It was good.

Is this the new architect?

-That's exactly what it is.
-Yeah, okay.

-Are we tearing it all down?
-Yes. Yes, I think so.

Am I picking the kids up today?

-No. No, your mom will do that.
-Oh, okay.

Hey... You are not worried?
About the protests?


But I can see that you are.

I'm just worried
that they will try to blame you.

No, they won't.

Look at this. This singer has been
on Spotify since the start.

You know why she stays?
Because she knows we're the best.

It's as simple as that. I promise.

Spotify, what we want...

A small but persistent group

has been protesting for three weeks
outside Spotify's headquarters.

We are all activists now.
They have forced us into it.

The protest leader, Nadja Johansson,
a former musician,

who feels forced to act
because of the situation...

Let's see... You know what?
Let's do this later.

You have to go to school.
I don't want you to be late today.

Can I have an iPhone?

I can't afford an iPhone, honey.

But all of my friends have one.

Spotify, what we want...

I know... but...

Hey, there's food in the fridge.

I'm working late tonight.

And after work, I have a gig.

And the more gigs I get,
the closer we are to an iPhone.


Go on. Here, don't forget your bag.

I'm standing here
with Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek.

What do you say to the shareholders
who worry about the negative reactions?

No, I'm not worried about that.

There will always be people
who are opposed to success...

The doors are closing.

First floor.

-Great gig.

-I've transferred the money.
-Yes, great. See you.

See you. Take care.

You've only given me half.
What's going on?

I didn't sell as much beer today
as last time or the time before that.

Hang on. I played a gig
that you hired me for.

Yeah, but do you want me to go bust
just to let you play?

I mean, you get free PR by playing here.
People go home and stream your music.

That's great for you.

Okay, I... I don't know
how this will turn out,

but I have reached a point
where there's nothing more I can do.

I'm a musician.

I have released and written six albums
in the last ten years.

I've had many hits. My songs are played
close to 200,000 times a month on Spotify.

But I still can't pay my rent.

I take all the gigs I can get,
I have a job on the side,

everything for the privilege
to make music.

Even though I tell myself every day
that soon things might improve,

if I write the right song, or end up
on the right playlist, things will change.

But the truth is
that the system is broken.

The music industry made
23 million dollars last year.

The record companies thrive.

They even made more money
than they did before piracy.

The ten people
who make the most money in Sweden

come from the same streaming company
every year.

Despite that, the artists who create
the music for their platform

can barely survive.


Today you liked one of my songs.

You added it to your playlist,
which is awesome.

But if you really liked it,
sit down and talk to us.

Help us have a new discussion
about the streaming business.

Help us create a new system, a music
industry where we can actually survive.

Nadja? What's going on?

I love you! You are awesome!
Oh, you are so great! Thank you!

-Have you completely lost it?
-No, your post!

You've done more with one video
that we've done with 15 protests.

And it's perfect that it was you!

This is really good to hear, but I have
to get Naomi ready for school.

Then I've got to go work, so I...

Are you kidding? This is so f*cking big!

What the hell are you talking about?

-Everything okay?

I know this is something you dismissed
a long time ago and...

Well, you may not like me bringing it up,
but considering the situation and...

I'm sorry to interrupt,
but have you seen the news?

-Do it.

Bobbi Thomasson, musician
and childhood friend of Daniel Ek

posted an emotional and personal video
on her Instagram story yesterday.

Daniel, today you liked one of my songs.

You added it to your playlist,
which is awesome.

But if you really liked it,
sit down and talk to us.

Since last night, the video has been
shared more than 12,000 times,

and has the support from other musicians.

Everybody, this is Bobbi Thomasson, the
woman who knows how to get to Daniel Ek.

-Way to go, girl!

We've been busy for months,

but nobody's cared until now,
after your post.



We put your video on our feed.

It's had over 20,000 likes
in under two hours.

The hashtag Scratch the Record,
is trending since yesterday.

We managed to connect. Now we are all in.

No, no, no, I don't think
I'm the right person for this.

I just posted a video
because I was tired and cranky.

Yes, sure you are.

We are all activists now.
They've f*cking forced us into it.

Well, this may sound a bit strange,

but I know Daniel Ek personally, okay?

We grew up together, and I mean,
I support you 100%, of course,

but I posted the video
because I wanted to start a dialogue.

And regardless, I have to wait and see
what he says.

So... you haven't checked
your Instagram yet?

He stopped following you this morning.

Daniel isn't interested
in having a dialogue.

None of them are.

They want us to shut up
and they want us to go away.

Just so you know, there's
another protest outside the headquarters.


Daniel, would you mind looking at this?

Yeah. What's this?

It's a proposed sale of Spotify.

I know that this isn't something
you've considered before,

but every CEO, every founder,
has to choose their moment.

-You've had an amazing journey.
-No, I won't sell Spotify.

You hired me to have somebody
who always tells you how things are.

As things are,
the market is still in our favor.

But what will you do
when the market value drops below the IPO?

I hired you because you are pragmatic
and stubborn, but this is too much.

Okay, so how do we get out of this one?

We'll have to borrow more.

Daniel, last year we borrowed
one billion dollars.

We'll borrow more to get through this.

We'll do some acquisitions, we'll invest
in innovative tech, like we always have.

This is your way out.

If you sell Spotify,
you protect your legacy.

You protect your brand, you protect
what you have tried to build...

I won't sell Spotify, I...

I haven't done what I wanted yet.


Scratch the Record! Scratch the Record!

Okay, keep your heads down.
Security is here.

Scratch the Record! Scratch the Record!

-Daniel, this is outrageous!
-Yeah, I know.

-Just, just relax, okay?

The business model we have is fine.

We have new content, we'll give them more
support and soon we'll have Discovery Max.

There's no reason to panic.

I'm not here as Daniel Ek's enemy.

I'm here as someone who used to know him,

and who believed in the promises
he gave me and other musicians.

Scratch the record!

I'm here today
to say that enough is enough.

I have told my friends to be patient.

I've really tried to believe in him.

But the average salary for an
employee at Spotify is 130,000 dollars,

while the musicians
on his platform are on their knees.

Daniel Ek, it's time for you
to "Scratch the Record".

It's time for you to sit down
and talk to us for real this time.


This is distracting the office.
It's a public disturbance.

-We should call the police.
-We can't call the police.

This is a platform for musicians. What
will it look like if they're arrested?


Okay, it looks like the police
decided to turn up anyway.


Scratch the Record!

Let her go!

This is bad, Daniel.

It's only a story because we're in Sweden.

We must not forget
we are listed in New York.

We have more Chinese shareholders
than Swedish ones.

But this may affect your chances
of borrowing money. You know what?

I'm working myself to death
and I run from bank to bank.

Do you know
what the first thing they ask about is?

These protests.

Daniel... you have made it clear
that you don't want to sell Spotify.

You want me to find more money
that will enable new innovations.

If that's the case, you will have
to make sure this doesn't get any bigger.

One thing I've learned in politics...

"Never let yourself become the story."

-Do you want to play with us, Daddy?
-I'll play later.


How are you?

You're seen everywhere, Daniel.

These protests, they won't die down.

And all those damn opinionated people
who say Spotify needs to change,

-what do they mean?
-Are these the new designs?


Yes, these are the designs.

Ernst was a bit worried
that you might think it's a bit too big.

Don't compromise.
I think we should make it even bigger.

Did you get hold of Sundin?

Okay, tell that traitor
that I'm coming now.


How are you doing? Nice to see you.

-And you.
-Yeah. How are you doing?

-Yeah, well... I'm alive.
-Yeah, great.

Discovery Max looked...
I saw some test results. They were...

Hey, this is the deal.
I need you to do something.


I need you to call Bobbi Thomasson.

I want you to explain to her
that this thing she's doing,

it can only ruin things.

It's based on a complete misunderstanding
of how Spotify works.

I haven't seen Bobbi
for about ten years, I think.

I can try to get hold of
her contact details, and then you can...

Hold on... Try?

-Yes, I can try to get hold of...
-She was your artist.

You were the one who signed her.
You promoted her.

-You can contact her.
-No, I can't.

I get it.

You use them, sign them,
earn money from them,

and when you're done, you forget them.

When Bobbi is upset about her earnings,

does she turn to Universal or BMG?

Does she turn to any of the people
who are responsible for what she earns?

No, she and her f*cking friends
set up camp outside my office,

throwing all their shit at me.

Did I sign her? Did I encourage her?

Did I encourage any of these millions
of people who live in that fantasy

that you have sold them, that they
will be the next Drake, Taylor Swift,

getting them to sign shameful contracts
they are too young to understand?

But who do they hold responsible? Me!

But you don't care!
Of course not! Why would you?

You and the record companies got what
you wanted, 70% of everything we earn.

You've got a great deal there.

And you got a stupid bastard
who agreed to it all.

I'll be a while, but you can wait here.

At a bistro in Rågsved?

-Why are you here, Daniel?
-I think we should talk.

Now? When I have a gig?

I don't care that other people protest.
But you, Bobbi, you know me.

That's why I joined them. If you
don't know someone, you won't listen.

But what is it you want me to listen to?

People who refuse to accept
the world has changed?

Nothing has changed!
It's a f*cking nightmare.

Maybe you haven't understood
how to make the most of Spotify.

-Please, don't do this.
-Listen to me. I'll just say one thing.

If you let me... I will show you
how to make the most of Spotify.

And then? Will you tell all the other
1,5 million artists your secrets, too?

You remember how it was? You told me
that Pirate Bay uploads all of your songs.

So we should be grateful that they aren't
stealing from us like 15 years ago?

No, that's not what I mean.

You're talking about your journey...

But what about our journey?

All the millions of musicians
who have no control of the payments.

It can't be my responsibility
to help the careers of all the artists.

Why not? You are the most powerful person
in the music industry right now.

You are the system
and that's what you wanted.

You wanted to create
the biggest music platform.

-Bobbi, it's time.

-Nice place...
-It's crap.

This place... The whole point is
that nobody listens.

Bobbi, let me help you.

Bobbi, come on.


Thank you for staying for the whole gig.

What's wrong?

I understand that you want me to...
to change Spotify.

But the changes that you want me to do...
would be our downfall.

It doesn't have to be that way.

You have your songs, Bobbi...

Your music... That's what Spotify is to me.

Everything I am is a part of that.

And it doesn't matter what you say...

I will never let anyone take that
away from me.

Scratch the Record. now spreading around the world.

The Swedish artist
named Bobbi Thomasson...

Scratch the record.

This is bullshit.

You know they only brought us here
to humiliate us.

The US Senate are meant to humiliate us.

I'm not supposed to be here.
I'm not American.

Daniel, you've got this.

You know what it is? It's

You're the CEO, Daniel.

You run the company.

If we lose this argument
in front of the committee,

our whole business could be screwed,
so please, just don't resist.

Yeah? Focus. Stay cool and calmly
answer everything they throw at you.

We're here.

What kind of power
does this committee have?

The kind that can recommend
a fixed price of a stream,

regulate everything
and destroy our business model.

You have to focus on a Senator Landy.
This is her hearing. She pushed for it.

She's staked everything on this.
Don't let her win.


What the f*ck is she doing here?

Forget about her. She's

She's here as a representative
or some shit. Who cares?

You have to shut Lanley down.

What about the other guys?

Keep them engaged. As long as they make
eye contact with you, we're good.

As soon as they start avoiding
your gaze, we're f*cked. And Daniel...

you can do this.

Do you swear to tell the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth,

-so help you God?
-I do.

Could you please identify
yourself for the committee?

My name is Daniel Ek
and I'm the CEO and co-founder of Spotify.

Mr. Ek, you previously
described Spotify's mission as:

"To unlock the potential
of human creativity

by giving a million artists
the opportunity to live off their art."


How is your progress towards

Excellent. Our top tier club of artists
who can support themselves from streams

has doubled in the last three
years and tripled since 2015.

That's impressive...

So, at your current rate of

you would h*t that one million
figure in... just under 75 years?

Your business model
just doesn't work for musicians, does it?

That's not true.

What are the average earnings
of an artist not in your top tier?

Well, the number of artists
changes so fast for us, you know.

Mr. Ek, from your own data,
I can see here that the figure is...

12 dollars a month.

-Could you live off that?
-Well, that number is not verified.

It's taken from your own results.

Excuse me, Madam Chairwoman.
Mr. Ek...

Isn't it the case that Spotify
is just one platform among many?

Yes, that is correct.
Spotify is one platform among many,

and artists have several platforms
to earn an income from.

It's not fair to put all that on Spotify.

What percentage of the streaming market
does Spotify control?

I believe it's around 25%, Senator.

You control almost 45%
of the US market alone.

In some countries,
your share is as high as 60%.

Five times as many users
as your nearest rival.

To all intents and purposes...
you are a monopoly.

We are not a monopoly.

No artist can take themselves
off your platform,

no artist can risk losing
exposure to your audience.

You control streaming and
you control the fate of musicians.

I'm sorry, Senator.
Was there a question in there, or...?

Do you believe the size of your business
model creates a problem for artists?

Spotify is about partnering
with the artist,

and build the music industry with
them and create a future together.

When the Copyright Royalty Board
awarded songwriters

their first raise in almost 50
years, how did Spotify react?

-We sought clarification.
-You sought clarification?

You took them to court.
You lodged an appeal against them,

and you got lawyers to argue for
a cut in what they're paid.

Does that sound like a company
that supports artists?

It sounds like a company
that has its own approach,

but we support songwriters.

We partner with them,
we champion them.

You use your size and marketing
budget to silence your critics, Mr. Ek.

At every opportunity,
you do everything you can to drive down

the share you pay musicians.

Don't you think you have a
responsibility to these people?

I believe that musicians
need to understand

that I'm the best friend they've got.

I'm the only one who's not lying to them.

I'm the only one who's honest
about the fact that we can't go back,

that this is a completely new industry
with new rules and new principles.

I'm the one working day and night
to create the opportunities

they need to achieve their dreams.

What is Discovery Max?

Discovery Max is a perfect example.

It's a service that helps artists.

Discovery Max is a service,

in which you take
a bigger share of the artist's royalty,

and in return offer them extra promotion.

Well, Discovery Max is an exchange
between Spotify and the artist.

It is straight up music industry payola,
and it has to stop.

You're splitting hairs, Mr. Ek.

You reduce the artist's royalty
and in return you fix the game.

We're not fixing anything.

The major record companies own
almost 20% of Spotify, don't they?

It's possible. That's...
It's around that number, yes.

So, the musicians are on the labels,

the labels own part of Spotify, Spotify
decides which musicians get promoted,

and then the income from the streams
goes straight back to those labels.

What part of that
does not sound like a cartel?

We're not a cartel.

You control the market.

You're in bed with your suppliers.

And then, at every turn,
you use your reach and your technology

to drive down the share
that you pay musicians,

the people that depend on you
and your platform to make a living wage.

Can you seriously sit there and tell me
that in any other part of the world,

this would be considered acceptable?

There's a lot of negative comments.
The word cartel seems to resonate.

It's a few voices on social media,
nothing to...

Let's hope they put her under
the kind of pressure they put you under.

Would you please identify yourself
for the committee?

My name is Bobbi Thomasson.

I'm a musician, but I'm here today

as the US and global head of a musicians
group called "Scratch the Record".

That's a musicians' advocacy group?

Yes, that's correct.

And what are you advocating?

When our music is used,
when it's streamed,

we argue that musicians deserve
to be paid a fixed price per stream.

And we want that to be recognized in law.

We would all like to get paid more, but
that doesn't mean we can change the law.

Musicians have lobbied streamers
for a decent cut,

but all we ever get are words.
We need a law.

In every generation,
there are winners and losers.

And people say that's just how it is.

But this Senate has always been able
to tell the difference

between change and exploitation.

Miss Thomasson, with all respect,

you're not a front line worker, you're
a musician and you chose to do that.

So you want musicians
to accept that music is precious,

but they're interchangeable?

-That's not what I said.
-It is what you said.

It's what everybody always says.

But if you want to enjoy something,

you have no right to ignore
the conditions it was made in.

Spotify is... It's just a platform.

Spotify churns out a product
to millions of phones and laptops,

like a factory,

and the workers
that supply that product are musicians.

Spotify is always telling us how
grateful we should be for that exposure,

but I'm here to say
that you can't pay the bills with likes.

We don't care
how many analytics you build,

how many different ways you tell us

we have more listeners in Boston
than Stockholm.

When our work is used,
we want to get paid.

Why is that this Senate's business?

Why is that not for the market?
Or for the consumer?

Because, in 1938,

this was the Senate that introduced
a statuary minimum wage for the employees

of the new steel and oil industries.

Senators saw that the world had changed.

A new law was needed.

That minimum wage looks obvious now.

But the bosses fought it.

Law makers had to see that the oil
companies simply had too much power.

That is exactly where we are today.
This is about the big monopolies of today.

It's about whether we have the courage
to see that musicians

are no different to oil and steel workers.

We deserve the same rights...

the same recognition...
and until we acknowledge that...

streaming will always be exploitation.

Bullshit. Exploitation? The law?
Who the f*ck does she think she is?

She's someone who knows
she's got the support of several senators.

So what if she does? So do we. We have...

Lobbyists. We have influence.
Do not go and talk to her, Daniel.

I can't just ignore her anymore.
Just... stay calm.



Well, that was... You were impressive.

-I know you don't mean that.
-Yes, unfortunately I do.

I'm just the messenger.

But the message, Bobbi,
you can't be serious.


You compare Spotify to an oil company.

I remember what you said at the start...

I remember your promise that everybody
would benefit from Spotify.

Think about that.


-It's done.
-What's done?

I just spoke to the bank and they agreed.
Another billion. You got the loan.


What do we do about all this?

Do you think the bank cares about what
a bunch of activists or senators think?

In all this chaos
they heard only one thing: 45%.

You control the market.
That's all they care about.

What do you think?

Maybe you're right.

I might have been in politics too long.

But listen...
This is the last loan we can take out.

You have to figure out the business model.

If you can't do that,
don't take the money.


Are you all right?

Did you see where Bobbi went?

You know what I regret the most
with Spotify?

That I didn't leave the negotiations.

When we sat there
in the first talks about the rights...

I should have said, "This is the future.

If you want to be a part of it,
it has to be on our terms."

That would have been so damn beautiful.

So what you're saying is
that everything will get better...

if you listen even less to other people?


Okay, guys! That was the last sh*t for me
and you too, guys!