Spotify is making a podcast about its own history, and the first two episodes are well worth a listen for the details on the jump from piracy to streaming, how the company decided to build its business, and the technical details of how it did so. There are also some fun interviews included, with the podcast featuring stories from Sean Parker, inventor of Napster, and Lars Ulrich of Metallica.
In the podcast, the Spotify founders discuss the history of piracy in Spotify’s home country, Sweden, to give context about its development environment. It goes into the existence of Sweden’s Pirate Party, an actual political party that once held several seats in the country’s parliament. The founders also discuss how they wanted to take the ease of pirating music but make it legitimate.
If talk about being easier than piracy sounds familiar, it’s probably because that was part of the pitch for the iTunes Music Store, too. It seems, for the most part, that iTunes and the iPod are pretty much completely ignored. The podcast presents music distribution as going from CD stores to Napster to Spotify. Apple and Spotify aren’t the best of friends, but it’s honestly somewhat hilarious to hear how the story completely ignores the fact that people could, in fact, buy digital music (an option that was around even before Spotify launched).
Despite the lack of objectivity about the history of digital music, the technical depth alone makes it well worth a listen. The second episode (labeled 01) gets into how Spotify used the same peer-to-peer tech used by the pirates to build its legitimate music streaming service and how its approach blew people's minds at the time. Even though the story leaves some pretty important parts out, it’s still worth a listen to hear the origins of the popular music (and, obviously, podcasting) service.