Ever since Napster, the music industry has been desperate for a fix—and Daniel Ek may have finally found it. The 28-year-old Swedish founder and CEO of Spotify is, according to Forbes, "the most important man in music." His service amounts to a profitable way to give people what they want for free. Its easy-to-use social interface manages to be more attractive than piracy, writes Steven Bertoni. Ek wants Spotify to be to music what Google is to search and Amazon is to retail. It seems to be on its way.
The key to its profitability is portability: After users have built up playlists using the free service, many are willing to pay $10 a month to take it anywhere. Worldwide, 2.5 million people are paying for Spotify. And as a longtime devotee of both music and technology, Ek is the right man for a big job. "It disturbed me that the music industry had gone down the drain, even though people were listening to more music than ever and from a greater diversity of artists," he says. Now he's got licensing to last another two years; if he can make Spotify essential by then, he may have found the industry's "magic bullet," Bertoni writes. Click through for the full profile. (Read more Daniel Ek stories.)