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The Secrets of Spotify

A team of five Swedish researchers produced research to “teardown” the walls of secrecy built around what Spotify is as a company, as a platform, and as a network. Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music is a compilation of employee interviews, observations, archival work, web-scraping, user experience analysis, deep-dives into experiments using bots, and much more.

Researchers take us through Spotify’s journey starting from its de facto pirate service origins, where they were founded without a license as a solution to piracy. Spotify has changed the perception of streaming services and the music industry. While walking the readers through this journey, researchers reveal how Spotify underwent the change with each funding round and critical decision made by management.

The book serves as an intervention and inquiry into corporate ethics in the digital 21st century. Instead of attempting to answer, the book invites readers to witness Spotify’s transformation from a tech company that distributes content, into a globally operating media firm. Spotify transformed from “Music whenever you want it, wherever you are” to “Music for every moment”. Instead of music taste being viewed as the property of an individual, Spotify changed the face of music consumption to a collective, data-driven endeavor.

Spotify is an ever-changing network of record labels, music distributors, aggregators, cross-sector marketing partners, algorithms, curators, and most importantly customer usage data. The company has a point of view that is not applicable to traditional ways of looking at business and its values, products, and services. While researchers aim to experiment with Spotify to shine a light inside the “black box”, their methods also set an example on how to conduct research on a digital subject using digital tools. Overall, the book takes us on the journey of Spotify, reflecting on how the world, academia, and businesses are changing with digital.