Spotify is the world-conquering streaming service we all know and love. But what have been the major milestones along the way? We take a look…

2006 was the year the music world changed. Only, it took a while before the general public would realise it. In Stockholm, Sweden, friends Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon had just founded their small start-up, Spotify. 13 years later and, well, let’s just say it’s done pretty well.

By the end of 2018, Spotify had around 207 million monthly active users, with around 97 million paying subscribers.  Quite simply, Spotify has fundamentally changed the way we listen to music, with physical CDs and paid downloads trailing in the streaming giant’s wake.

Don’t have an account yet? What are you waiting for?! You can grab a Spotify Premium subscription at no extra cost for up to two years with a Red Entertainment plan from Vodafone UK.

But, how did Spotify become the dominant force in the music industry? Join us for a look at the streaming superstar’s landmark moments.

Founding and launch | 2006-2008

In the early noughties, the music industry was in the midst of a desperate fight against piracy, with infamous file sharing sites like Napster and LimeWire forcing a rethink of how studios and musicians could share their output. Then, in stepped Spotify. Founded in 2006 but launched in Europe two years later, the company offered listeners the chance to stream music for free (with ads), while offering an ad-free subscription – a model that’s stood the test of time.

The free service began life as invite-only but, as the service was streamlined and free accounts were made readily available in 2009, it didn’t take long before Spotify picked up steam, and by 2011 had announced it had reached one million subscribers. This number had doubled by September 2011, just months after Spotify was launched in the USA, with the service beginning to resemble the unstoppable juggernaut it is today.

Spotify adds an app platform | 2011 

Spotify’s growth continued as CEO Daniel Ek announced that the service would be welcoming developers – yes, Spotify was now also an app platform. Kicking off with a slew of high profile partners, including The Rolling Stones, the announcement meant that third-party developers could build apps that would incorporate Spotify’s features. Eight years later and the service is still going strong, with Spotify showing the world that it’s interested in so much more than filling your headphones.

Obama endorses Spotify | 2012

After years of growth and an increasingly rich feature set, Spotify’s route to global domination seemed assured. To add to this unstoppable momentum, President Barack Obama released his first Spotify playlist (of many) in the build-up to his second presidential campaign. The 2012 Campaign Playlist featured 41 tracks from the likes of E.L.O, Al Green, Ricky Martin and more, and, with an endorsement from one of the world’s most powerful people, Spotify’s place at music’s top table was cemented.

Spotify takes Thrift Shop to the top | 2013

After years of steady growth (with five million subscribers announced by the end of 2012), Spotify hit another milestone – being publicly credited for driving a song up the Billboard Hit 100 chart. The song in question was Macklemore’s then-ubiquitous Thrift Shop, which had spent almost four months in the top 100 before reaching the top, with the man himself accrediting Spotify and iTunes for its eventual success.

This should come as no surprise – Macklemore was Spotify’s most streamed artist in the world in 2013, and the rapper’s seemingly sudden success highlighted how Spotify’s influence was on the rise. By 2013, we’d streamed 4.5 billion hours of music – and with proof that Spotify could have a direct, lasting impact on the charts, it was an exciting new era for the service.

Spotify takes to TV | 2013

Until 2013, Spotify had been seemingly content with hauling in millions of subscribers through word of mouth and online campaigns. This, however, wasn’t enough. In 2013, Spotify was introduced into living rooms around the world, with the company launching its first TV campaign that focused less on what the app did, and more on what it actually stood for: music.

The evocative TV ads (named ‘For Music’) took the point of view of a crowd-surfing gig-goer, and was part of a huge, multiplatform campaign that served to highlight Spotify’s ambition: global music domination, and nothing less. 

Spotify hits the charts | 2014

It’s fair to say that the music industry had taken very serious note of Spotify’s rise. In 2014, the Official Charts Company conceded that streaming was no longer a challenger to physical records – it was almost certainly the future of the industry.

As a result, the company announced that streaming figures would be included in the count towards the UK’s singles chart for the first time. In the UK, music streaming had doubled in popularity from 2013 to 2014, with hit songs like Daft Punk’s Get Lucky hitting figures too astronomical to ignore. With this, Spotify had muscled their way into the old guard, and proved that streaming was no fad – it was the new norm for the music industry.

Spotify expands its repertoire | 2015 

In an industry where sitting still means stagnation, Spotify has always understood the importance of moving with the times. In 2015, Daniel Ek announced that the streaming service would be expanding to take “a massive leap forward.”

The leap, it turns out, was to make Spotify about more than music. Now, you could stream podcasts, video and news radio, with partners including BBC, Adult Swim and MTV offering users way more than just their favourite tunes. The ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist also landed in 2015, offering up two hours of carefully-selected tunes every Monday, and built on Spotify’s credentials as a powerful music discovery tool.

The expansion saw Spotify become a one-stop shop for many of our listening needs, and this willingness to grow and adapt shows just why the service continues to flourish.

Ariana Grande breaks Spotify records | 2018-2019 

Records are there to be broken – an attitude Ariana Grande clearly holds dear, as she smashed two Spotify records with the release of her 2018 single, thank u, next. Trumping Taylor Swift’s previous record of 9.1 million streams, Grande became the most-streamed female artist in 24 hours, overtaking the record with a whopping 500,000 additional plays.

Not only that, but thank u, next became the fastest song to reach 100 million Spotify streams, reaching the milestone in only 11 days. The singer was so pleased with the accolade that she took to Instagram to celebrate. And who can blame her?

She wasn’t done there, though. Her 2019 single 7 Rings broke Spotify’s all-time record for most streamed song within the first 24 hours, with 14,966,544 listens – making Ariana Grande the undisputed queen of the streams.

Spotify, meanwhile, continues to grow and change, and will no doubt have loads more awesome developments to announce in the coming years. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

Want to find out about Spotify’s biggest tracks of 2018? You can find out more here…