Spotify CEO charts path to profitability, challenging Apple Music in interview

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In an interview detailing Spotify's long-term profitability goals, CEO Daniel Ek says his company's strength in the fact of rivals like Apple Music is that it can "play nice" on any platform.

The streaming company on Monday announced a number of new endeavors, including a "HiFi" lossless streaming option and exclusive podcasts. In the wake of that event, Ek sat down with The Verge to discuss some of those features and Spotify's broader plans.

On its competition with Apple and Amazon, The Verge asked if Spotify was considering first-party hardware to compete with the options available from its rivals. Unlike other companies that have music or podcast streaming services, Spotify doesn't make its own hardware.

"I would have been a lot more concerned if consumers were locked into just one ecosystem," Ek responded. "If it was just an Apple, or just a Google, or just an Amazon that kind of owned the consumer across their entire ecosystem."

The Spotify chief executive added that Apple is "very strong on mobiles," Amazon shines in the home audio space, and Google is strong in the automotive industry because of Android Auto.

"And the one thing that is true about Spotify is we play nice on all of them, and I believe we're the only player that has that relationship where we're now on 2,000 devices, and we play nice on all of them," he said.

Ek also touched on Spotify's various business models, including running ads and selling premium subscriptions. Both of those options, he said, are likely here to stay.

"You had broadcasting that only had ads and then you had cable that was the only subscription, but the reality is it converged because it turned out that the better consumer experience was the combination of both," Ek said. "I think you're going to find that into the future of the internet, too, is that we can deliver a great user experience with both advertising and subscription, and I think the future for us is both and a la carte, as well."

Additionally, one of Spotify's long-term goals is to create an ecosystem that can sustain creators and musicians with opportunities for growth, engagement, and monetization. Ek called it a "long, long-term goal."

On the metrics of success for exclusive podcasts, Ek said there are a number of them. He pointed out the company's exclusive deal with Joe Rogan, and added that the average listener on Spotify is listening to more podcasts than before.

And as far as the threat from buzzy, audio-based social media platform Clubhouse, Ek said that Spotify is paying as much attention to the platform as they are to "Fortnite" or "Minecraft."

"All forms of media and entertainment is minutes that could have been spent listening to audio instead. So we're definitely paying attention to it," he said.

Apple is said to be working on its own premium and exclusive podcast content in a bid to compete with Spotify and Amazon. In February, the company announced a tie-in podcast for its Apple TV+ series "For All Mankind."

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