A miniseries about product strategy, offering on a weekly basis, a glimpse into the decisions that have guided Spotify’s product evolution. Hosted by Gustav Söderström, Spotify's Chief R&D Officer, each episode tells the story of a pivotal product development or business decision through candid conversations with a diverse cast of voices from across the industry.
09: Building the future of audio
37:26What’s Spotify up to next? Tune in to the season finale to hear about Spotify’s plans for the future of audio and the brand new formats that we’re launching today and in the near future. As always, when building something new, we don’t know how it’s all going to play out yet, or exactly what the product strategy lessons will be. But we do know which bets we’re making, and why we’re making them. This episode features interviews with Spotify insiders Michael Mignano and Nir Zicherman (Anchor founders), Howard Akumiah (Locker Room founder), and Maya Prohovnik (Head of Product for Spotify’s Creation Platform team). You can find the transcript here
08: When to build vs buy - and when to open source
34:40This is the story of Backstage -- a “platform of platforms”, built by Spotify and open to anyone as open source software. Tune in to hear insights about when to build vs buy - and when to open source - or not! Interviews with Jeremiah Lowin, CEO of Prefect.io, a company that runs on what is called an open core model, as well as from Spotify insiders like Pia Nilsson, Director of Engineering and Tyson Singer, Head of Technology and Platforms.
07: Spotify’s podcast bet
46:44How do you go “from zero to one”? In this episode, you’ll learn how Spotify managed to enter a market late: a market that was already dominated by a single player - our biggest competitor in music. This is the story of how we entered podcasts. Daniel Ek, Dawn Ostroff, and Sten Garmark shed light on the insights that led Spotify into the podcast arena. Tune in as we explore Spotify’s bet on podcasts, the shift to audio-first and four hard-won lessons in product strategy. The transcript is available here. Thanks to Dan Willis for letting us use a clip from his YouTube video
06: Hardware is hard
38:14In this episode you’ll learn about Spotify’s journey into the painful complicated world of hardware. You’ll hear how we worked our way down to the very bottom of the stack in our quest to create the “perfect listening session” in the home, how we had to build a completely new media streaming protocol in the process and how we ultimately found a way for users to pass something called: “The Beer Test.” Things you’ll learn in this episode: - How do you get a company to sustain a risky multi-year bet with high uncertainty? - How do you partner well (and not so well!) - How do you go about introducing a new standard in an industry? The episode features interviews with Thomas Cullen, Sonos co-founder, and Spotify insiders, Sten Garmark, VP User Experience, and Nicole Burrow, Senior Director of Design. Check the episode transcript here and Spotify Connect site here
05: When your winning bet becomes your losing bet
47:41This episode is especially geared towards CEOs/CTOs that have to "kill their darlings" and make hard choices. Listen to Google employee number 8 - and SVP of infrastructure at Google - Urs Hölzle, as well as Spotify insiders Tyson Singer, Nicole Bouchard and Emil Fredriksson as we journey from "brilliant" proprietary tech on a few servers in a cupboard, in an apartment, through buying thousands of servers in anticipation of our own growth, to eventually shutting down our own server infrastructure team completely, instead partnering with Google to be able to move up the stack and compete where our resources can make the most difference. Transcript here
04: Human vs Machine
48:38Will AI truly replace us humans when it comes to music? Listen to machine learning (ML) legend Andrew Ng and Spotify insiders on what it really means to develop products in an AI/ML first world, how we invented the term “Algotorial” and how reinforcement learning (RL) applies to music. Features interviews with Andrew Ng, Oskar Stål, Ajay Kalia, Meg Tarquinio, and Tony Jebara. Transcript here
03: This party is going to end
53:52This episode tells the story of how Spotify went into negative growth and nearly didn’t survive to it’s 5th birthday as the world around us suddenly changed…. You’ll learn how we had to reinvent our entire business model and find a new free tier that worked in a mobile first world. You’ll hear from people like world-class technology investor and analyst Mary Meeker, as well as early Spotify employees like Sten Garmark, Charlie Hellman and Babar Zafar. But most importantly, you’ll finally get to know why it’s better to be lower on a taller mountain than higher on a smaller one. Transcript here https://bit.ly/3mIV3M6
02: How do you charge for nothing?
32:51In this episode we tackle how Spotify went from being a popular free desktop app - but that nobody paid for - to being a mobile app that people actually paid for - even though users already had all their pirated music on their phones for free… It includes interviews with: Kenneth Parks, Mattias Arrelid, Petra Hansson. Bonus - If you want to see what the magic trick actually looked like back in 2009, check out our first public demo here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5whfaLH1-E Script here https://bit.ly/2Q24TN5
01: How do you steal from a pirate?
36:52This is the story behind Spotify’s first product -- the desktop app. We explore how the first iteration of Spotify came to be, and identify the four biggest lessons learned through the process - lessons that still shape the company to this day, almost 15 years later. Hear the story from the source, featuring interviews with Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek, and former Spotify teammates Ludde Strigeus, Sophia Bendz, and Michelle Kadir. The transcript is available here.
00: The most epic battle in music history
40:03This is where the Spotify product story begins. In this episode, we dive into the world that set the stage for Spotify and the streaming music revolution. In the early 2000s, piracy was killing the music industry. Music had moved to digital, and there was no going back - but something had to be done. We hear from some of the key players from that time - including Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Sean Parker of Napster, strategist Matthew Ball, and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. The transcript is available here.