It’s no secret that Spotify and Apple have beef. But according to a Variety interview with the authors of a new book, Spotify Untold, that beef dates all the way back to 2010 when Steve Jobs would purportedly prank call Spotify CEO Daniel Ek... and just breathe deeply into the phone.
For context, at that time Spotify was just beginning to edge into the U.S. market—a move that Apple was purportedly none too pleased with and doing its best to block. With stress mounting, and the music industry unwilling to play ball, Ek supposedly told a colleague that he believed Jobs was calling his phone to possibly psych him out. The book’s authors, Swedish journalists Jonas Leijonhufvud and Sven Carlsson, claim that while this particular anecdote isn’t 100 percent verifiable, the story came from a “trusted source.”
“Whether Steve Jobs actually called Daniel Ek is something we can’t verify,” Carlsson told Variety. “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. The major record companies seem to have been quite loyal to the iTunes Music Store, and to Jobs personally.”
The book itself details the rise of Spotify from start-up to music streaming giant, and while the authors didn’t score an interview with Ek himself, they did speak on and off the record with former Spotify executives and investors, as well as record company insiders. And it would seem a large chunk of the book is dedicated to some juicy Apple-Spotify beef.
“After several months of research, we could finally account for how Jobs actively worked to oppose Spotify’s establishment in the U.S., and what he may have been thinking,” Carlsson says in the interview.
So did the iconic, black turtleneck wearing Apple cofounder really take time out of his day, five years before Apple Music even launched, to play mind games with a potential rival? Honestly, it’s not hard to imagine. Maybe he did it during his lunch breaks, punching in Ek’s number on an untraceable iPhone 4. Who knows. Rich people are weird, let alone rich tech moguls. Carlsson claims Jobs saw iTunes as a key advantage in the ‘holy war’ against Android and it’s not out of the realm of possibility Jobs—a famed jerk—would engage in some CEO-to-CEO bullying.
There’s reportedly more hot, juicy gossip in the book, which for now is unfortunately only available in Swedish. The authors claim that not only did Spotify try to acquire Tidal and Soundcloud, but that tech giants Microsoft, Google, and Tencent all tried to buy Spotify as well. You can also read a translated chapter of Spotify’s failed attempt at a TV service. Still, first things first. Can someone please fully translate, in sumptuous detail, that bit where Steve Jobs creepily breathes into a phone?