back to article Hundreds of Spotify staff stream out the door in latest layoffs

Stop us if you've heard this one before: the CEO at a well-known technology company writes a letter to staff, laying off hundreds. Said CEO accepts responsibility for assuming a pandemic boom year would mean higher sustained growth rates, but it didn't, so sacrifices must be made. By the rank-and-file, of course, not by said …

  1. ragnar

    "I accept full responsibility", while suffering precisely zero consequences.

    I wish more media took El Reg's acerbic tone when they parrot this line without further comment. If you insulate yourself from consequence, you're not bearing responsibility.

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      "His letter didn't include plans to step down."

      LOL (but really crying out loud)

  2. BigAndos

    Spotify is a really odd company. They have attracted lots of investment and have millions of users. I am a user as the service is super convenient and very reasonably priced. They came in a "disruptor" and they have certainly disrupted the music industry and inspired a lot of competitors. However, they have never made a full year profit and they've made it much harder for smaller artists to make money due to the pittance of streaming royalties. So they've turned the industry on its head, but they also can't make a profit. Unless they have a secret plan to one day triple subscription charges I really don't understand their long term business goals. There's some really strange economics going on with internet companies these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Isn't it the case that the major labels each own a stake in spotify?

      In which case, it doesn't really need to make a direct profit, and "much harder for smaller artists to make money" is a nice bonus.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        I trialled Spotify a year ago and found that it didn't recommend very many of the big name artists in the genres I listen to. I assumed at the time, apropos of nothing, that this was because the big artists (or their labels) had negotiated more favourable royalties, so it was in Spotify's interest to serve up the "cheaper stuff". Whether this is true or not I don't know but I found it quite refreshing and I was able to expand my library significantly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I have a subscription for a few months and cancel it for a few months, been doing this for a couple of years. I don’t use it like that though, I use it to play the music I already want to listen to - not random recommendations. De La Soul, first 3 albums - available soon! Finally!

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Unless they have a secret plan to one day triple subscription charges I really don't understand their long term business goals. There's some really strange economics going on with internet companies these days.

      Basically it's VC money subsidising our listening habits (in a similar way that VC's subsides Uber taxi rides).

      Being able to listen to almost anything I want for less than what we used to pay for a CD each month is an amazing deal for consumers. As you say it obviously won't last and hopefully at some point the streamers will start paying the artists more fairly[0]

      [0] I do buy downloads from Bandcamp before someone says something!

  3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Five months severance

    That sounds ridiculously generous. What's the norm for these tech companies?

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Five months severance

      Fairly normal for a Nordic country.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Five months severance

      WARN typically requires 2 months.

      "Good" companies sometimes give some number of weeks (e.g. 1-2) on top of that per X years of service, some of them cap it at a few months. So it can add up for long-timers. Especially for US companies which still have PTO/vacation policies as an accrued expense, because that needs to be cashed-out as well. Ditto (usually) for other accrued things like company sabbaticals if it's been earned by the time the layoff triggers, etc.

      So yeah, 5 months total isn't bad, relatively speaking. Remembering that they're still out of a job in any case.

  4. 1920x1080p

    9,800 staff to run a streaming music business?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      A global streaming business which needs infrastructure maintained in multiple places and monitored for scaling as well as functionality, working with artists and recording companies requiring salespeople and contract lawyers, makes money from advertising and thus needs people to work with advertisers in all the major markets, and also owns a lot of podcasts which involves the work of a media company as well. Yes, you end up finding new tasks to do which requires hiring more people to get them done. Writing an app that can play some audio files off this server over here takes a single person or more likely a small team. Scaling it up to the level described is another problem. Doing that while making money is even more challenging, and from the sound of it they haven't figured that part out.

      1. Insert sadsack pun here

        It's an advertising and subscription business with a music department...

  5. John 104

    Needs Work

    I've been a paid subscriber for around a decade now. It is convenient, the streaming quality is good. However, why is it such crap at rotating THROUGH your playlist on shuffle? I have a playlist with over 300 songs in it, yet I continually hear the same 40 songs over and over. It isn't a difficult concept to put the entire playlist into an array and iterate through it....

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Needs Work

      Probably because, as with so many "internet" companies, it's their way or the highway. Maybe, as someone else mentioned, it's related to royalty payments.

      Just look at something like Kodi[*]. It's free, open source, made by unpaid volunteers and you can choose from many different "look and feel" interfaces and a working playlist randomiser. I don't know of any streaming services, paid or free, that let you choose how the media is presented. They all seem to be designed to make you listen to or watch their choices on a screen designed for touch scrolling. It's bloody hard work identifying some albums or TVshows/films from thumbnails because the title style, font and colour changes on each one. No one provides a simple text/list option. The thumbnail display works if you know what you are looking for but is shit for quickly browsing for something that looks interesting.

      * I'm just a happy user, no other connection to the project.

  6. lglethal Silver badge

    This sounds amazing close to an admission of incompetence. But that can't be right. The Admission of Incompetence, I mean, not the actual Incompetence. I must be reading it wrong...

    1. Korev Silver badge

      It's odd because it's oft said you need to pay CEOs mega money to attract the best talent. I wonder if they're taking a pay cut after admitting messing up?

      The likely answer-->

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Helluvit is, after one member of the CEO Club uses an excuse like this out loud in public, it becomes easier for the rest of them to do it.

      It's no less shameful, but after the pundits and financial analysts and other media hear the same mea culpa at a few quarterly results meetings, they stop making a big deal out of it, maybe even stop reporting on it at all -- it's not "news" anymore, eh?

      The rest of the CEO's are just as responsible and should be held just as accountable as the first, but since they're pretty consistently rich folks with big ole generous parachutes in their guaranteed employment contracts, there really isn't that much "accountability" for the big bosses to begin with, is there....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was it the Joe Rogan podcast which cost $200 Million wot done it?

    I mean, keeping 600 staff would have been cheaper, and it's not like Joe Rogan was the only one.

    It's a music streaming service that forgot it was a (very good) MUSIC streaming service.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like