New Spotify book contains a very weird Steve Jobs anecdote

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Steve Jobs used this psychological trick all the time to get us to accept Apple's high prices.
Did Jobs intimidate the Spotify founder by breathing down the phone to him?
Photo: Kazuhiro Shiozawa/Flickr CC

Despite his sometimes prickly reputation, Steve Jobs was well known for mentoring select young tech entrepreneurs. When it comes to Spotify, however, he may have taken a different tact.

According to a new book, Spotify Untold, Jobs freaked out Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek by calling him up and breathing deeply down the phone. (Then again, it may have all been Ek’s imagination!)

The highly unusual anecdote opens the new book, which is not yet available in English. It describes the stressed state that Ek was in when trying to get Spotify to break into the U.S. in 2010.

Did it happen?

“We have that from a trusted source,” journalist and co-author Sven Carlsson told Variety. “Whether Steve Jobs actually called Daniel Ek is something we can’t verify. To us, Ek’s claim is as a reflection of how paranoid and anxious he must have felt in 2010, when Spotify was being denied access to the U.S. market, in large part due to pressure from Apple.”

At the time, Carlsson says that major record companies in the U.S. were loyal to the iTunes Music Store. They also felt loyal to Jobs, who had helped save the music industry with iTunes’ revolutionary business model. Carlsson continued:

“Apple had roughly 80 percent of the market for digital music distribution in the U.S. at the time. Jobs saw music downloads via iTunes as a comparative advantage in his ‘holy war’ against Google’s Android platform.”

In the end, Spotify was able to broker “secret deal” with Universal Music Group and Sony Music. This allowed it to enter the U.S.

Apple vs. Spotify

Steve Jobs passed away before Apple launched its Apple Music streaming service. This put it into direct competition with Spotify as a streaming music provider.

Right now, Apple Music has around 60 million paid subscribers. That places it behind Spotify, which reported 100 million paid subscribers at the end of the first quarter of this year. However, in the U.S. it seems that more people pay to listen to Apple Music than they do Spotify.

In recent times, Spotify has been a vocal opponent of Apple’s App Store. It claims that it is unfair that Apple takes a 30% cut on App Store generated revenues.