October 26, 2023
Peter Calder

The Playlist: Spotify’s Dramatic Beginning (2 minute read)

This Swedish dramatic mini-series follows the story of the beginning and rise of Spotify, the world’s most popular music streaming service currently occupying 30 percent market share.  

“The Playlist follows similar to other popular films and TV based on real events such as “The  Social Network” about Facebook and “Super Pumped” about Uber.  Recently, in the last few years, I’ve been watching and paying more attention to international Film and TV.  I watched this series in English, dubbed over from its original language of Swedish.  

Over the  last decade, in particular, there’s been an increase in technology associated with dubbing and finding ways to improve the experience for people watching in other languages.  In particular, I noticed with this series that more angles than usual were not on the subject when they spoke.  This made the watching experience more beneficial for people watching in alternative languages rather than being put off by a lot of shots with the subject’s mouth not lining up with the words.

The best aspect of this series was the format.  Each episode is the same story, more or less repeated over again, but from a different character’s perspective, offering more and alternative details to the series of events that unfolded.  The episode’s title reflects the perspective that the episode is offering, for example: “The Coder” (the person behind the brilliant technology the platform needed to be so successful), “The Partner” (the investor who believed in and helped finance the project), “The Law” (the lawyer who took on the huge record companies owning all the music).  This format makes the series’ substance more believable and real, showing the differences between the opinions on what was said and what happened.  

Of course, it’s important to note that this is not a documentary series.  It is a dramatic scripted series with actors.  Each episode also ends with the subject of the following episode saying something like “That’s not what happened,” which is a great cliffhanger that keeps the audience wanting to watch all the episodes to learn all the perspectives.  

In terms of the story, it was fascinating how each character came together to reach a  common goal of making the startup company succeed.  I can relate to the characters’ shared “wants  .”They all wanted to build something different, a unique business, new and different from any other.  Many details in the story reveal the possible inner workings of how aspects of the streaming service industry came to be, such as how your device can play a song within seconds of selecting it or how a business model could be possible without ads.

I find these “how things came to be” stories very interesting because they can often help answer broader questions of how and why the world landscape is today.  

Overall, I enjoyed the series’ story and thoroughly enjoyed the format of the series, giving unique detail from different perspectives.