Tag Archives: spotify

Why Stockholm’s startup scene extends beyond Spotify and Skype

Local hero Spotify, like previous standard bearer Skype, has certainly inspired Swedish entrepreneurs, but Stockholm’s flourishing tech cluster is down to an mixture of forward thinking and talent, says Monty Munford

Cash is certainly not king in Stockholm. The shock of cash being refused when trying to buy something innocuous from a street food restaurant is an uncomfortable feeling, but an emotion that Swedes no longer register as normal.

According to a recent study from Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden is quickly becoming the first country in the world to eschew cash. It says there are now less than 80 billion Swedish crowns in circulation (£6.7 billion), a steady decline from six years ago, when the total circulation was 106 billion crowns (£8.9 billion).

The reasons for this culture are manifold. A widespread Swedish culture that is tough on corruption and potential terrorist/criminal cash transfers has also been revolutionised by Swish, a direct payment app that came about as result of a collaboration between Danish and Swedish banks.

Swish is an example of the type of innovation coming out of the country. Everybody knows Skype, and what Spotify is even if they prefer vinyl to streaming and their Stockholm base has undoubtedly energised young Swedish entrepreneurs. But there are other factors behind Stockholm’s emerging tech hub.

In a country where taxes are sky high, it would seem unlikely that such a hub could exist. Other European cities are more competitive when it comes to salaries, but Swedish entrepreneurs are not fleeing their country to Silicon Valley, they are staying put and growing in stature and confidence.

Stockholm things to do

Stockholm is a place to walk around, not travel by cab. Everywhere seems to be within a 15-minute orbit and it is this proximity that may explain why Stockholm is prospering. The number of schools in Stockholm are relatively small and everybody not only knows each other, they were brought up with each other… and now probably work with each other.

Moreover, Swedish Government support in the late 1980s and early 1990s when PCs were heavily subsidised to encourage computer use has created a strong matrix, rather like subsidised Southern Californian universities in the 1970s was one of the reasons behind Silicon Valley.

Throw in great transportation links into the city, a well-linked international airport, a strong seam of talent coming out of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and other campuses, as well as successful exits means an archetypal cluster is emerging that is beginning to rival London and Berlin.

One interesting company in the city is Universal Avenue, with offices in Stockholm, London… and Thessaloniki, apparently an excellent city to source talent while Greece is undergoing its current difficulties.

The company is a SaaS offering that trains sales teams to become ‘global Brand Ambassadors’’ and an instant direct sales force that can be activated instantly in any global location, but not that anybody would know when entering reception. A lone candle and eerily placed lights makes the visitor feel as if they are entering a Banksy installation or a four-star hotel spa.

“Multiple Swedish startup success cases are fuelling money back into the ecosystem and also making top talent chose a startup career rather than a traditional path of investment banking or management consulting.

“Business-minded people here are complimenting an already existing talent pool of top performers within design, user experience and tech. Strong teams, access to VC money for growth and a global perspective from start will continue to create Swedish unicorns,” said Johan Lilja, chief executive and co-founder Universal Avenue.

These potential unicorns are everywhere in Sweden. Companies such at Trucaller, Klarna and Lifesum are following earlier exit King in creating huge equity. Others such as the podcasting monetisation genius that is Acast and fishing social network FishBrain also have huge potential.

But the most important supporter of this ecosystem is undoubtedly Sting, an institution that is all things to all entrepreneurs since its formation more than a decade ago.

It is an incubator, accelerator, a co-working space, investor, business angel and a network of business coaches that supports its carefully picked companies for up to two years, a lifetime in entrepreneurship, but a refreshing commitment of time.

“Last year, Stockholm was rated as the world’s second-fastest growing market for VC investment in technology. It now has the most billion-dollar startups in Europe. There is no question that we are the startup capital of Europe,” said Pär Hedberg CEO and founder, STING.

No shortage of confidence there, then, but Hedberg’s assurance is being matched by the entrepreneurs in Sweden. They may be short of cash when they enter the city’s increasingly digital and cash-unfriendly emporia, but may be rolling in it if they continue their current rate of progress.

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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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Spotify and Netflix oust Rolex and Sony as most desired brands

The annual CoolBrands Top 20 has found that new digital entertainment companies are perceived to be cooler than more established titans such as Sony, Bose, Rolex and Selfridges

Digital entertainment companies are gaining stature at the expense of the established kings of luxury, an annual report into the UK’s most desired brands has found.

Spotify was the highest new entrant in this year’s CoolBrands Top 20, stealing 11th place, while Netflix and Instagram were fifth and seventh, making the top 10 for the first time.

Sonos, the maker of the wireless multi-room speaker systems and a pioneer of the connected home, also joined the index, while high-end home technology designer Bang & Olufsen fell five notches to 16th place and Sony dropped out of the ranking altogether. Other luxury brands including Dom Pérignon, Rolex, Bose and Selfridges were also knocked out of the top 20.

The Apple Store in Sydney ahead of the new iPhone 6s going on sale

Apple, which had fans queuing for days last week to be among the first to get their hands on the newly released iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, retained the top spot for the fourth consecutive year.

“Attaining Top 20 CoolBrands status takes time and isn’t the result of a one year fad or flash in the pan,” said Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the CoolBrands Council.

“Young brands however, like Netflix and Instagram, are showing clear momentum. They are moving up the Top 20 at a decent pace and posing a threat to established sector peers, suggesting they’ll challenge the leading brand overall,” he said.

While Stella McCartney, last year’s 20th coolest brand, lost its place on the index, rival British fashion house Alexander McQueen rose seven slots to rank sixth. A retrospective of the designer’s work became the UK’s most highly-attended paid-for art exhibition.

High street sports brands fared well amid a British resurgence in fitness activity, with Nike taking fourth place and Adidas joining the list at number 18. Whole Foods Market also entered the index this year, taking 15th place.

The CoolBrands Top 20, now in its 14th year, is compiled from a longlist of 1,450 brands based on the opinions of 2,500 British consumers and a judging panel. Brands cannot apply for consideration or pay to be included.

These are the 20 coolest brands in the UK:

  1. Apple (=)
  2. Ray-Ban (+10)
  3. Glastonbury (+2)
  4. Nike (-1)
  5. Netflix (+5)
  6. Alexander McQueen (+7)
  7. Instagram (+7)
  8. Chanel (-4)
  9. YouTube (-2)
  10. Aston Martin (-8)
  11. Spotify (new)
  12. Google (-6)
  13. Royal Albert Hall (new)
  14. Sonos (new)
  15. Whole Foods Market (new)
  16. Bang & Olufsen (-5)
  17. Ace Hotel (new)
  18. Adidas (new)
  19. Virgin Atlantic (=)
  20. Liberty (-4)
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Music streaming just became a billion-dollar industry

Revenues from streaming music online have surpassed $1bn for the first time

Revenues from streaming songs on the internet has passed $1bn for the first time, new figures have shown.

Digital downloads of songs continued to fall out of favour in the first half of the year, while free and paid music-streaming revenue kept growing, even without much of a bump from the launch of Apple Music.

That’s according to mid-year sales figures released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Monday. They show overall music industry revenue fell a half percentage point to $3.2bn.

Revenue from paid subscriptions to services like Spotify and Rhapsodygrew 25pc to $478m, while revenue from free services like Pandora grew 22pc to $550m. Streaming revenue as a whole surpassed $1bn in the first half of the year for the first time.

Download sales revenue fell 4pc to $1.3bn, while physical disc sales dropped 17pc to $748m.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice-president of internet software and services, launches Apple Music

Apple Music, the tech company’s online music subscription service, launched on the last day statistics were recorded.

Cary Sherman, RIAA chief executive, said in a statement that while streaming music revenues continued to grow healthily, he criticised the rates being paid to labels and artists for streaming music, saying they “do not always equal fair market rates”.

Certain rates for Internet radio are set by government bodies.

The rise of digital streaming has helped the industry maintain annual revenues of around $7bn since 2010, offsetting the decline in revenue from digital downloads of single tracks that began in 2013. But the level is far below the industry peak in 1999 of $14.6bn, when compact discs were dominant.

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Chromecast will soon support Spotify according to leaked documents

It looks like September will bring a host of improvements to Google’s Chromecast. In addition to upgraded hardware, the search giant is reportedly adding Spotify support to Chromecast, according to documents seen by 9to5Google. Spotify support is likely to be announced at Google’s event on September 29th, where it’s also rumored to be announcing a second-generation Chromecast dongle, and two new Nexus phones.

Chromecast can already stream music from a number of sources, including Google Play Music, Pandora, Rdio, and Plex. Spotify was the largest of the streaming music services missing from that list, but the expected announcement should make Google’s Chromecast dongle a more enticing option for home streaming — particularly if the new model does indeed allow you to stream to any speaker in your house through the yet-to-be-announced Chromecast Audio service.

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Spotify Updates Its Privacy Policy, Again

The new privacy policy is rolling out now, complete with a plain-language introduction for laymen.

Spotify on Thursday formally updated its privacy policy to better explain how it uses your data.

CEO Daniel Ek last month apologized for a previous update that was vague and caused concern that the music service was collecting data it did not need. Ek admitted that Spotify “should have done a better job in communicating … how any information you choose to share will—and will not—be used.”

At issue was a policy update intended to make Spotify “as open and transparent as possible.” But some of the updates prompted concern, specifically that the service may ask permission to collect information from new sources—like the user’s address book, location, and mobile sensor data, among others.

The news resulted in a Twitter battle between Ek and Minecraft creator Markus Persson, who announced the cancellation of his Spotify subscription over the changes. It also prompted Ek to update the new policy once more.

That update rolled out this week, with the added benefit of a plain-language introduction, “intended to be a clear statement of our approach and principles about privacy,” Ek wrote in a blog post. “We hope it provides a healthy dose of clarity and context too.”

As the preface states, Spotify collects data to either run the service, or provide additional features. In the case of the second category, Spotify promises to ask your permission before using photos, location, voice, contacts, or data sharing. If you opt in but later decide against it, simply revoke permissions at any time.

Read the entire preface on the Spotify blog, or visit the complete privacy policy for the full effect. Ek encouraged users to send any questions or concerns to privacy@spotify.com.

“Yes, we still need to provide greater detail in the body of the policy, but those details are, and will always be, in keeping with the fundamental privacy policies we outline in the introduction,” he said.

The new policy will reach users over the coming weeks.

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Spotify’s ‘Sorry’ Fails to Cut Through Confusion

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Friday issued a public apology for poor communications regarding the company’s new privacy policy.

The new policy, which took effect Wednesday, immediately triggered alarm. Several tech publications railed against the terms, and Minecraft creator Markus Persson engaged Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in a Twitter debate that ended with Persson and others quitting the music service.

“Let me be crystal clear here: If you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to,” Ek wrote in his apology.

“We will ask for your express permission before accessing any of this data — and we will only use it for specific purposes that will allow you to customize your Spotify experience,” he added.

In light of Ek’s apology and explanation, the debate now appears focused on whether the brouhaha was justified, or if Spotify’s critics profoundly overreacted.

Spotify’s Intentions

Spotify’s new policy increases information collected to include new technical data such as additional cookies, device information and network information.

With permission, Spotify may collect information stored on mobile devices, such as a user’s contacts and photos.

Spotify may collect location information and sensor data from mobile devices.

A lack of clarity over what Spotify might ask permission to do and what it might do without asking permission no doubt led to the outrage.

It’s Not OK if We’re Paying

“At the core of the problem is that this is a music service that a lot of people actually pay for,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“You might expect this from a free social media app, but, with a service you pay for, your expectation of privacy is far higher,” he told TechNewsWorld. “You don’t expect to be mined for any of this, and it could — in fact, likely will — drive customers to other services.”

Spotify’s data gathering would be like “my CD store selling information captured about me on their cameras while I was in the store,” Enderle remarked.

“When you sign up for a lot of these online sites, they ask if you want to sign in through your Facebook or LinkedIn account, and they will then access your contacts because they’re looking to capture additional information,” noted Susan Schreiner, an analyst at C4 Trends.

Spotify’s basic service is free, but the company reportedly plans to adopt a premium-only, gated access model.

User Reactions

“Good corrective,” Casey Newton wrote in response to “Spotify’s new privacy policy generates unnecessary outrage” in The Verge.

“Overreactive outrage is this decade’s vice of choice,” said Peter Cooper.

“Am I the only one who does not feel offended by the new Spotify privacy policy?” asked Kostas Livieratos. “It just serves a better experience, wtf people?”

“BTW, if we know each other and you’ve got my contact info in your phone, I expect you to delete my info or uninstall Spotify, your choice,” wrote Eleanor Saitta.

“New Spotify privacy policy is an utter disgrace. I won’t recommend service again — and I have many times until now,” said Glyn Moody.

“If you value your privacy, drop Spotify,” suggested Rebecca Mickley.

Sorry Doesn’t Cut It

Ek’s apology is “not even close,” Enderle said.

Spotify should offer “an opt-in backed up by solid customer benefits,” he suggested.

“It remains to be seen how his apology actually translates — the devil is in the details,” Schreiner told TechNewsWorld.

“The way to roll out a new privacy policy is to communicate it very clearly and emphasize how the uses of the app or service have many choices to set their privacy settings,” said Angela McIntyre, a research director at Gartner.

They could learn from Facebook, which “now sends messages to users to remind them to update their privacy policy settings and other apps,” she told TechNewsWorld. That would “get you off on the right foot from the start.”

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