Spotify CEO: Irking Taylor Swift was a ‘big success’

When the pop superstar pulled her music off the streaming music service last year, her protest ended up acquainting a whole new group of people with Spotify, CEO Daniel Ek says.

When music megastar Taylor Swift removed her tunes from Spotify, she ended up helping the service she was speaking out against, Chief Executive Daniel Ek said Monday.

“The middle of America found out what Spotify was, so we had a big success,” Ek said, speaking via video conference at the IAB Mixx interactive advertising conference in New York. “I wish we could have gotten that attention in a better way than pissing off Taylor Swift.”

Spotify is a streaming music service that offers all-you-can-eat tunes that listeners pay for outright with $10-a-month subscriptions or indirectly by sitting through advertising. With 75 million people using the service regularly, the startup is helping lead a fundamental change in how people listen and pay for music: subscribing to mobile access rather than paying for digital downloads typified by Apple’s iTunes store.

In November, Swift pulled her entire catalog of music off Spotify just as her hit album, “1989,” was released. She didn’t want to contribute her life’s work to an experiment that doesn’t fairly compensate artists, she said.

Monday, Ek reiterated that he agrees with Swift that musicians deserve to be compensated.

“We agree music should not be free…it should have a lot more value in society than it currently does,” he said. He noted that even in the case of Swift, consumers could still turn to YouTube or Pandora or a host of other online services to listen to her album for free after she withdrew from Spotify.

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