This Is What Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Listens to, Based on His Spotify Profile

For instance, the Swedish billionaire appears to have once made a birthday playlist for Mark Zuckerberg, featuring Tenacious D, four Green Day songs, and ‘Dick In A Box’.

Peter Slattery
4 min readMar 15, 2021

I write a quarterly-ish series for OneZero called The Cheater’s Guide to Spotify, which investigates the bizarrely genius ways entrepreneurs and scammers game streaming behemoths for listens, money, and infamy.

As such, I’m always keeping an eye on Twitter, Reddit, and beyond for chatter about Spotify (if you have a tip, my DMs are open!). Somehow, a month or two back, this tweet came across my timeline, and I was immediately intrigued.

Twitter user @JoannaNewSum41 had the brilliant idea to see what Spotify’s CEO himself, well, listens to on Spotify, and discovered… drumroll please… a playlist titled “Happy birthday Zuck!”

“Honestly I was just procrastinating and went, ‘I wonder what Daniel Ek listens to,’ so I went on his profile,” they told me via Twitter DM.

The 2010 playlist appears to have been, in fact, created on the Facebook CEO’s date of birth, which is May 14 (Zuck, a Taurus!). You can check out the full playlist in all of its early-aughts terror below, or on Ek’s verified Spotify profile— It’s public.

The playlist “Happy birthday Zuck!”

Taken together with a tweet from the following day in 2010, in which Ek tagged Zuckerberg’s old private Twitter account, following up on Big Z’s joyous celebration of 26 years of life, this internet paper trail gives us a weird little window into a time when Spotify and Facebook were eyeing each other as potential business partners.

In September 2011, a little more than a year after these posts, Spotify and Facebook announced they’d officially decided to link and build, integrating the nascent streaming service into the social behemoth. Looks like two dudes vibing to “Jizz In My Pants” is how real business gets done. Stupendous.

“Happy birthday Zuck!” is just the third public playlist on Ek’s profile, and appears to be the first he himself created. In my opinion, it’s also the peak of the 35 mixes that are currently viewable on his profile, which boasts more than 726,000 followers.

Still, there are certainly some other choice highlights to mention. There’s “Dubai trip,” an 18 song journey from 2010 that’s heavy on Coldplay and Maroon 5, but was semi-regularly updated in the following years, including the additions of John Mayer in 2011 and James Blake in 2012. How often was this guy going to Dubai, and why was this the soundtrack of choice for that journey?

Like many in the general populace, Ek was jamming to “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver in 2013, and Shazam’d “Closer” by The Chainsmokers and Halsey in 2017. Streaming magnates— they’re just like us!

Though most of Ek’s playlists hover in a range of 50–300 followers, his selection “now listening to…” boasts a whopping 701,730 followers. I have no idea why.

Ek appears to have stopped using Spotify’s public playlist function in 2018, save for updating one mysterious nameless mix. So, after browsing around Ek’s profile, I expanded my search to other internet robber barons, but was left with more questions than answers.

Is this Mark Zuckerberg Spotify profile that “follows” Nicki Minaj legit? Is Spotify cofounder Martin Lorentzon’s playlist “Hard Core” (which has been updated from at least 2008 until 2020) actually kind of sick? Will I ever be able to erase the knowledge from my brain that Sean Parker has a playlist called “Hipster International” that’s followed by more than 700,000 people? Will I ever be able to confirm that this “therealseanparker” account (whose playlists the verified Sean Parker follows) is actually Sean Parker as well, meaning I found Sean Parker’s “Glamping on Acid” playlist?

Sean Parker’s possible alt Spotify account really covers all the bases.

I guess, as the old cliche/idiom/adage/whatever goes, don’t meet your idols— you’ll find out they went through a Lonely Island phase in 2010. Except, I’m not meeting them, just looking at their Spotify profiles, and these aren’t my idols, but rather an assortment of billionaires I feel very little emotion towards, except perhaps a vague fear. So, I have no idea where this leaves me, besides feeling a vast, terrible abyss closing in once again.