Episode 4 of The Playlist starts with us switching perspective once again, this time focusing on coder Andreas Ehn. Coding is instrumental to any big tech company succeeding but it’s hard, meticulous work. Andreas though sees it as part of his DNA. He believes in taking the ugly, chaotic world they’re living in and making it perfect in a digital landscape.
Andreas is overworked and his bosses don’t appreciate the effort he puts in. He’s working for a company called Stardoll, which only have eyes for making a tidy profit off add-ons for their online game tailored to kids. Daniel Ek notices Andreas’ boss grilling him from afar and suggests he quit and do his own thing. He pitches their tech start-up, and confirms that Andreas would be appreciated with likeminded people.
In a coffee shop, Daniel pitches his idea of Spotify and how he’ll cut out all the hassle and risks of downloading from Pirate Bay. He also meets Martin too and shows them their office space. It’s empty for now but Andreas’ expertise and brilliance helps to make this a success. He also decides to handpick a number of different coders to help them too. He has a vision for the world’s best coding team working here.
Andreas goes on to tell them all that access is the most important part of Spotify’s potential success… as well as speed. They work around the clock to program this in, working to try and make Spotify the best it can be.
Martin helps open the door for Andreas to talk to the bartender working at the bar he’s been frequenting. When he looks at her – properly looks at her – he calls her beautiful and that opens things up for the pair to end up romantically linked. Andreas is under a lot of pressure from Daniel though, especially as the system is now needing to be built on a P2P system rather than servers.
After a slick explanation in the show (which I wont bore you with here),the gist of it is that P2P basically means Peer to Peer and it’s a system that works to share between different users… it’s also a painfully slow process. Andreas skips out on dinner with his partner to help Daniel out at the club with Per, where he catches the tail-end of their scathing chat and how he throws Andreas’ laptop on the floor.
Ludvig is brought on as a consultant to help speed things up with Spotify, but it also works to undermine Andreas too given Ludvig is an expert in Peer to Peer coding. While he runs the front end, Andreas will run the back-end. Out at the bar, the team come up with an idea for a hybrid system. It’s Peer to Peer but only switches to the server for some songs when they’re random and outside what they believe the user is going to choose next. The delay is 0.250 milliseconds but it’s still too slow for Daniel. He wants it to be instantaneous.
Andreas lashes out at Daniel, claiming that he’s asking for the impossible. Daniel is not impressed and eventually tells Andreas that if he can’t hack it, he should just leave. Andreas gets his head back in the game and with a brand new network protocol… and it works. Daniel is blown away by what they’ve done but it comes at a cost
When Andreas heads home, he finds his girlfriend gone. His pursuit of the perfect music player has come at the cost of his romantic life. She leaves him a note, telling him life’s too short to be waiting. Unfortunately, Andreas’ night goes from bad to worse when he hears Daniel is restructuring the team to work directly under him. Andreas is also shocked by the idea of Spotify Premium, believing it undermines what they initially wanted to do. He’s overruled by the others and becomes disenfranchised with Spotify.
Andreas decides to re-prioritize what he wants and heads back to his bartender girlfriend, deciding to do away with Spotify and double down on his desire to be with her and live in the moment. They head to the airport and prepare to head off to Singapore.
The Episode Review
The perspective changes once more and this time we see things from the stressful point of view for the coders handling Spotify and everything that this entails. There are definitely similarities here to The Social Network and WeCrashed, especially regarding the way Daniel grills these coders to work incredibly hard and achieve the impossible. Although they do in the end, it comes at a price.
The episode does also come with a nice little moral message not to put work ahead of your relationships, although anyone who has become obsessed and passionate with their projects will tell you that’s easier said than done!
The Playlist has been a thoroughly enjoyable series so far though and with the spotlight presumably shining on Martin next time, it seems the thread is going to be tied to all the different storylines we’ve seen so far.