Audio is global

Over the years, we’ve made it our thing to be the best at getting better. We embrace the controlled chaos needed to see opportunities and adapt to a new beat. And we’ll keep on dancing to that beat too.

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to become a parent to two children, you’ve most likely experienced the strange combination of being excited and scared when you’re expecting your second child. Did we lose you now? Well, for a very long time (in Spotify terms) we only had one love, one child – Music. And who did not want to be part of spreading the joy of music to the world? It’s a universal enhancer of every moment in people’s lives. 

Then, around the same time as our first Culture Jam Session, we understood we were expecting our second child – Podcast. 

Is it possible to love your second child as much as your first? Yes, of course. And your love will never be less – even if extra attention and TLC for the newborn child is needed. With two playful children in the house continue to address the fact that audio, and not just music, is truly global so and so should we be. 

Refreshing Culture to embrace change

On the journey from a start up, through scaling up and then continued growth and development into a mature company, it’s inevitable that there will be some changes, like having a second child for instance. 

Some changes come naturally – almost organically and not as noticeable to everyone. Some changes hit like a force of nature, and some come gradually, but with resistance along the way. At the same time, no matter what the change occurs – it’s likely that some things stay the same. That’s what happened for us – a few things have stayed the same for quite some time now even if our mission, product and type of customers have developed over the years. 

For instance, since the launch of our current values in 2014, our band has increased by a huge 500%, we’ve made a number of mergers and acquisitions, opened up offices in new countries and regions, grown some of our early small offices to become global hubs, and also listed as a public company. Of course, we’ve gotten bigger and more complex as we’ve made these changes, but even more so when we think about how we’ve added more markets both geographically and through our developing product. So, this was the right time for us to define and tell a concise story – our story.

It’s fair to say that the Band Manifesto is not our first version of trying to describe our way of working, our values and our purpose. But, it’s also fair to say that we’ve never taken the time to be clear (externally) about what it means to join any part of the band – no matter which geographical place, or which department you’re joining. We’ve never clearly defined and communicated our cultural story when we think about the whole band. 

People are our culture and our culture is our people. So with 1,500 new band members a year, culturally we are evolving pretty quickly. The Band Manifesto, hand-in-hand with our values, gives guidance on the band we’re building and who we believe will thrive at Spotify. We strongly believe in everyone having a say and being part of evolving our culture. After all, everyone is expected to live by these values. Being a Spotifier is not just about what you deliver. It’s also about how you deliver. 

We also know that connecting people to each other and to the company through purpose and passion, will create a stronger sense of pride and belonging. The purpose – what makes us tick at Spotify – should be clear and relatable. No matter which department or office you contribute to. 

Together, we want to inspire people to listen to the world around them. To accomplish that, we all need to be part of this culture journey: newbies and the veterans alike. That’s why we’ll also take this opportunity to re-propose to Spotifiers too. Do they still want to be married to Spotify, to our mission, to our culture of dynamic polarities and to our beliefs? This is their chance to say, “I do”!

The right story tellers

When it comes to telling our story, so many others have, and keep trying, to do that. Some could tell the story…once.

It’s not hard to understand that our alumni tell a story of what their Spotify was like, but it is impossible for them to tell a story of what Spotify is like today, and what we aim to be tomorrow. We always have, and will continue to, change every six to twelve months, so if someone left one year ago… 

As we shared in earlier blog posts, The Band Manifesto has been massaged in a series of Culture Jam Sessions where we talked about what kind of company we are, what kind of company we want to be, how we’ve evolved over time and what kinds of people we think will thrive here. 

We wanted our manifesto to capture the spirit and ethos of our company and to avoid the many pitfalls of being cheesy and/or generic. Easy to say, harder to do! The second hardest thing in our work with our new employer branding platform was – killing our semantic darlings. Picture a book full of notes, some really clever remarks and a handful great one-liners. How do you pick and choose which to keep and who will you trust with all your passion? 

Since we shared The Band Manifesto externally, we’ve been asked so many times – who did you work with, who helped you design this? We did. 

We partnered internally with our friends in Brand + Creative. We shared the recurring and most relevant snippets from our Culture Jam Sessions, as well as the four clear culture paradigms we had defined since the super early days of Spotify. Then, we held our breath and hoped they would get it.

As soon as they came back with their first draft we realized, we’d made the right choice in partners. Of course they got it, after all they are Spotifiers. All the storytellers in this project work at Spotify and we saw our flirtation with each other turn into a flow blown love affair. And yes, like in every healthy marriage there has been a lot of communication back and forth to find the right nuance. This is embedded with several rounds of input, engagement and involvement, and we’re proud to say that The Band Manifesto is a result of internal work, from start to finish. Which made for an incredibly efficient process and a sure-fire way staying consistently inline with our b(r)and.  

But the work doesn’t stop here – there’s more to come – like our extensions to the core manifesto. For example, these first chapters will articulate our leadership criteria and our compensation philosophy. Stay tuned for further updates!

You can read more about how we roll in The Band Manifesto