The Playlist: how is the Netflix series that tells the controversial birth of Spotify

La recensione di The Playlist: la serie Netflix che racconta la controversa nascita di Spotify thumbnail

A conservative record industry but deeply in crisis, struggling to keep up with new technologies, especially due to the exploit of online piracy. This is the historical context that is the background to The Playlistthe subject of our review, the new Netflix series that tells the birth of a service that would revolutionize music: Spotify.

Through six episodes, lasting about 50 minutes each, the camera of Per-Olav Sørensen it takes us into the lives, fears and ambitions of a team of visionary developers, record executives and entrepreneurs, between those who understand the need to abandon the past and those who just don’t want to give way to new technologies.

Loosely based on the book Spotify Untold, the series investigates the 2006 record market, undermined by the rise of services Peer-To-Peer illegal like Pirate Bay. Sales of physical records therefore drop, and the entire music industry is reticent towards the advent of a new model: that of musica in streaming.

In this tumultuous historical period, Daniel Ek, a young Swedish programmer, has an intuition: offer streaming music but in a legal way. The idea, however, is complex to implement, especially because it is necessary to convince the discography to give up the rights to the songs, while the artists will find themselves collecting the crumbs of their work. A controversial story, a model that is still discussed today, which for better or for worse has however revolutionized the world of music.

Our review of The Playlist: available now on Netflix

The great narrative strength of The Playlist lies in its interesting format. Just like a Spotify playlist, the series features six episodes as if they were six songs from as many different albums and artists. Each episode offers us the point of view of one of the protagonistsstarting with Daniel Ek, CEO and co-founder of Spotify, up to the singer Bobbi Twhich complains about the unsustainability of streaming music for artists.

In between are record companies, programmers, lawyers and even Martin Lorentzon, the one who first invested in Ek’s visionary project. From this point of view the series offers us unique episodes, which are not afraid of contradicting each other. This is because the characters involved all have their own conscience, but above all their own version and perception of the events that took place.

This narrative device allows the show to tell a 360-degree story, starting from the innovative Spotify technology (explained by one of the developers in the fourth episode) to the complexity of the record machine (well analyzed in the second episode). Furthermore, each episode, precisely because it focuses on a specific character, has its own identity and its own directorial approach. In particular, the third episode fooled uswith incredibly accurate camera movements and chromatic tones.

The diversity of the points of view proposed also allows never fall into the easy temptation of the judiciousness of the story. In fact, the spectator will be the real judge, deciding if and to whom to give reason.

The contradictions of the music industry of the early 2000s

The most maniacal music lovers will be happy to observe a cross-section of the musical world that is often little told. Between market jealousies and dynamics that risk impoverishing the world of artists, The Playlist lets us peek through the keyhole of the major offices, helping us to understand the reason for so many controversies that we still read about streaming music services today..

The Playlist

There are also some small but delicious Easter eggs, like a young DJ called Tim (who will later become AVICII) and Daniel Ek’s wedding scene, when there is a song by Bruno Mars, who in real life performed at the ceremony. Then there are references to the first controversies of Taylor Swift on the unsustainability of the streaming model and also a historical reference to what happened with the advent of MTV in the 80s.

Not just music though: coding and internet language enthusiasts will appreciate the accuracy and simplicity with which the series explains some basic programming concepts. In short The Playlist it is a product that leaves nothing to chanceboth in the script and in the direction.