Spotify is handily the most popular streaming music service. All that popularity makes a seemingly made-up word like “Spotify” feel like a fairly generic brand name. The true story behind that name was hidden for a while.
A Brief History of Spotify
Spotify was founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon in Stockholm, Sweden. At this time, file-sharing services like Napster and LimeWire were well-known ways to download music for free.
Daniel told The Telegraph in 2010, “The only way to solve the problem was to create a service that was better than piracy and at the same time compensates the music industry.” That was the goal of Spotify.
Spotify opened up registrations in 2008, starting in the UK. It offered a free ad-supported tier and a £10 a month ad-free subscription. Spotify was first a desktop app, but the company launched a mobile app in 2009.
After a few years of growing success in Europe, Spotify made important record deals to be able to launch in the US in 2011. By 2015, Spotify had 18 million paying subscribers. As of July 2022, that number is up to 182 million.
Spotify hasn’t been without drama. It has consistently been criticized for how it pays artists. Some big-name artists, including Taylor Swift, have kept their music off the platform—though she eventually joined.
What About That Name?
For a while, the story of how the Spotify name was created was a lie. In his interview with The Telegraph, Daniel Ek himself explained that they “were a bit embarrassed to admit” how they came up with the name, so they said it was a conjunction of “spot” and “identify.”
According to Daniel, what actually happened is he and Martin Lorentzon were brainstorming names together. As they were shouting names across rooms, Martin said a name that Daniel misheard as “Spotify.”
Daniel did a Google search for the name and found no other hits, meaning they could totally own it and not compete with anyone else. They registered the domain names a few minutes later. The rest is history.
In the end, the Spotify name is like a lot of start-up names. It was completely made up and chosen because it sounded cool and no one else was using it. There really isn’t a “meaning” behind it, unlike some other company names.
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