Spotify's CEO

Daniel Ek says he’s one of the least influential people at Spotify, however, his compensation and holdings suggest otherwise.

Stockholm – At a recent podcast recording, Spotify CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek made a surprising claim – that he is “probably the least powerful person” at the streaming music giant. Ek credited this ostensibly limited influence to Spotify’s embrace of the Scandinavian leadership model, which spreads decision-making across managers.

While Ek’s professed humility echoes the egalitarian ethos of his native Sweden, the numbers indicate that he wields considerably more power than the average Spotify employee:

  • Ek is Spotify’s largest shareholder, controlling 32 million shares
  • In October 2023 alone, Ek cashed out 400,000 shares for $64 million
  • Ek oversaw laying off 1,500 Spotify staffers in December 2023
  • Artists earn a fraction of a cent per stream on average from Spotify

At the podcast recording, Ek even named Elon Musk as someone who likely sees himself as having more control than leaders like Ek. However, Musk’s larger-than-life persona as CEO of Tesla and Twitter has done little to boost those companies’ fortunes recently.

In the end, Ek may be more focused on cultivating a specific image than on actually decentralizing power at Spotify. While flattering to employees, his claim of limited influence seems difficult to reconcile with his commanding stake and payday. For artists and laid-off workers struggling to get by on Spotify streams, Ek looks to remain firmly in the driver’s seat.

2 thoughts on “Spotify’s CEO Claims He’s Not That Powerful – But The Numbers Tell A Different Story”
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