Kevin Brown, the most senior industry-facing executive at Spotify outside the US, is leaving the company at the end of this year, MBW understands.
It is currently unknown where the respected exec may be off to, but we believe he will officially exit Spotify at the close of 2017.
Brown is Head of Artist & Label Services UK and International at Spotify – where he first arrived in early 2013.
Since joining the company in his London-based role, Brown has played an instrumental role in the growth of Spotify’s subscriber base ex-US, and the vast improvement of its reputation amongst artists and rights-holders.
When he joined Spotify in 2013, Spotify was serving around 6m paying subscribers worldwide. Today, that number is comfortably above 60m.
The timing of Brown’s exit from Spotify is believed to coincide with the end of his two-year tenure as Chair of the UK’s Official Charts Company.
Within a year of Brown joining Spotify, he was instrumental in brokering an agreement with the OCC to include streaming data in its Official Singles Chart – a move which was eventually implemented in summer 2014.
Little over a year later, Brown became Chairman of the Official Charts Company in addition to his duties at Spotify.
Streaming now accounts for around 80% of ‘sales’ in the Top 200 UK singles chart, and has also been adopted to count towards the Official Albums Chart in the market.
One of Brown’s achievements at Spotify has been the reversal of a long-held trend in the UK market: certain labels ‘holding back’ big singles from streaming services to build up demand in their early stages of radio play.
It’s rare to meet a senior UK label exec today who wasn’t exposed to Brown’s ‘On Air / On Spotify’ campaign in 2013/2014 – nor one who would consider ‘windowing’ a single off streaming services for radio’s benefit today.
In August 2015, Brown also played a key role in One Direction’s decision to hold off from putting a digital music video out alongside the audio release of single Drag Me Down – a move which set a precedent for audio streaming services like Spotify to premiere flagship tracks before YouTube.
Perhaps the biggest legacy of Brown’s team on Spotify, however, will be the marked improvement of the platform’s standing amongst the artist community.
When the exec joined Spotify in 2013, international artist ‘hold outs’ on the service included Thom Yorke, Bjork, Four Tet, Coldplay and Adele.
Brown’s team focused on improving relations with such artists and their managers to much success.
“To many of us in the UK, Kevin is considered ‘our’ person at Spotify, and has particularly made strides with the independent and management communities,” one senior industry source told MBW.
“He is often the voice of reason whose background means he is able to see all issues from everyone’s perspective.”
“Kevin is often the voice of reason whose background means he is able to see all issues from everyone’s perspective.”
Coldplay did ‘window’ their latest album, A Head Full Of Dreams, off Spotify for a week in 2015 – but whispers at the time suggested that a three-month hold-out was being considered.
Meanwhile, the Radiohead catalogue arrived on Spotify in summer 2016 on the heels of the release of A Moon Shaped Pool – while Tom Yorke’s solo catalogue finally hit the platform at the end of last week.
Before joining Spotify, Brown worked at companies including EMI, BMG, 4AD and PolyGram.
In these roles, he worked with artists including Lily Allen, Coldplay, Doves, Gorillaz, Whitney Houston, Interpol, Kylie Minogue, My Chemical Romance, Beth Orton, Pixies, Puff Daddy, Radiohead, Emeli Sande, Scissor Sisters, Sigur Ros, TLC and Robbie Williams.Music Business Worldwide