Spotify Reviews

Updated April 23, 2015
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2.9
17 Reviews
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Daniel Ek
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17 Employee Reviews

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  1. Great learning experience. Great culture... most of the time.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    * Possibility to develop your career. An engineer can become a manger if s/he chooses to.
    * Flexibility to switch teams.
    * Really nice culture. There is a noticeable amount of trust bestowed to everyone.
    * Your team is given freedom to take its own decisions on how do you want to work.
    * Flat hierarchy, your opinon is taken into account (most of the time)
    * Great colleagues, lots of brilliant minds. Lots to learn. It can be overwhelming at first.
    * Lots of *good* social activities and events to help newcomers.
    * You don't need to ask for permission or make up excuses to take a day off or work from home for a day or two. Everyone is very understanding of work/life balance issues and time off is encouraged. No schedules enforced. Come and leave as you will (or you agree with your team). Paternity and maternity leaves are taken seriously.

    Cons

    * Culture and company values are not always upheld. That is, some of the pros mentioned above are not always true. For instance, even though there's a flat hierarchy, office politics do exist. Also, you (or your team) won't always have room to take your own decisions. Freedom to decide how you work is sometimes just an illusion maintained by management. For example, don't ever dare to doubt the agile coaches' methods. Note that this does not happen most of the time, but when it does it's really frustrating.
    * Not all engineers-turned-managers become good managers. Also, usually the most senior enginneers are the ones who become managers. Then they end up engulfed in a world of meetings and stop doing any engineering work at all, which is what they are best at and the company loses a great technician.
    * Company has multiple offices around the world, but culture remains heavily face-to-face focused and the miscommunication between offices and teams is apparent. If you get assigned to one of the smaller offices, you will be in hell.
    * Really poor internal technical documentation practices and onboarding. There is very little investment on it.. Most software is custom build so previous work experience does not help much. Knowledge is spread by either personal experience (you own the service and maintain it, therefore get to learn it) and mouth-to-ear (by collaborating with other teams). Those who have been in the company the longest and have had the change to work in many teams are who hoard most of the knowledge of how everything actually works, while newcomers struggle to keep up.
    * The company's take on knowledge sharing is "put people together and wait for the magic to happen". That does not always work and is a very slow and expensive method.
    * Salaries are a bit on the low side, specially compared to other tech companies.

    Advice to Management

    * Ditch the face-to-face values and encourage more asynchronous communication channels. That will help greatly on the office communication problems.
    * Do something about all those meetings.
    * Set documentation writing and maintenance as a priority for every tech project. That would fix knowledge sharing and help with the onboarding.
    * Do follow the company values or change them. Half-truths just led to confusion and disappointment.
    * Beware of bad managers. They can easily become toxic, pollute the work environment and destroy your culture. The higher up in the chain of command they sit, the more destructive they are. The process to swicth from engineering to manager should probably be more strict. Encourage going back to engineering if it does not work out.
    * Raise salaries. Some differences with competitors are to big to resist.

  2. Helpful (2)

    Very, very nice place. Probably, one of the best you can find.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    *Extremely* skilled colleagues, perfectly healthy work/life balance, calm Swedish environment (it's totally fine when people come late or leave early for a proper reason), no insane deadlines, very knowledgable management and Product Owners. Cool and colorful office, free snacks and drinks, occasional music events with live bands performing. Tons of learning opportunities and technological challenges - you can switch a team and learn something new that you've always wanted. Free Spotify Premium on top of everything else :)

    Cons

    Open-sourcing tools built isn't in DNA of a company. Consequently, very few teams do so, it's just of low priority for everyone so people never really get to this.

    Visiting conferences may require some bureaucracy and talking about why you go, why is that important for a company, and who you go with. And there's a limit of 3 conferences a year which may be discouraging to some.

    High volume of written communication, be prepared for your Slack client and Gmail inbox to practically explode of incoming messages from your colleagues and other departments. Catching up on emails is essential to stay in loop but I never liked doing it as generally I consider "email time" a waste.

    Company doesn't encourage remote work and doesn't allow it for long periods (even occasional WFH may be a problem). Too much relies on face-to-face communication so being out of the office makes one disconnected from a team.

    Low pay, at least in Stockholm. Senior Engineer salary is only enough to keep one's family afloat so the expectation is both parents are employed. Rent prices are very high in Stockholm (10-15K SEK a month) and lot's of single people rent tiny 30-40m apartments. Relocation package exists but it is lower compared to other well-established companies of a similar fame.

    Advice to Management

    Paying people on par with Googles of the world would go a long way. Same as treating open-source contributions seriously and making it an integral part of the company's culture. Letting people choose the conferences to go to without going through rounds of conversations and confirmations every time would be very nice. Same goes for remote work.

  3. Helpful (8)

    Great learnings, very poor middle management and rewards.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Business Development in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Business Development in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    It is a fast moving, flexible and fun place to work. It has good perks at the offices and the environment within the employees is good overall. If you are on the tech side, there are many teams you can move in between and learn different skills easily. It is a place where you can make friends and enjoy working.

    It is a very international team, so a multicultural reward is also a good collateral benefit.

    If you want to learn anything from the music industry or tech environment, definitely a place to be.

    Cons

    Poor middle managers chosen for their "backgrounds" are making the company slow and very non-efficient. Priorities are based on "friendships" and reward is based on "managing up". You sense a big hole in transparency specially Business Development and Marketing.

    The glass ceiling for many employees is lowered by every tier of managers hired.

    If you are under a middle manager, most probably he will be more interested in company politics than taking care of your team.

    Advice to Management

    Start doing 360 reviews again. The fact that poor manager performance is crippling Spotify might not be an easy fix, but needs to be addressed.

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  5. Helpful (13)

    Lots of positives but negatives are growing

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - Work-life balance is great. The allow ample time off and benefits if you have kids. Must be the Swedish influence.
    - Amazingly smart people. Very passionate about that they do which makes it exciting to work with them.
    - The work done can be super interesting. Music + tech, who doesn't love that.
    - It's fun to work here. There are never days that you dread coming in.

    Cons

    - Politics. So many people here don't get along. Departments don't talk to one another. A huge us vs. them attitude prevails.
    - Lack of professional development. There's little room to move up here. Employees who have contributed greatly over 3-4 years are passed over and instead new "experienced" managers are often hired from outside.
    - Stock option program. It's bad. For a company that's valued in the billions the amount that is offered to employees is laughable. Re-grants are essentially non-existent for long-term employees.

    Advice to Management

    - Stock option: It's hard for employees to see only top executives get anything meaningful in a multi-billion dollar company. Longer term employees especially will (and are) leave since there's no incentive to stay.
    - Improve top/milddle management to help weed out the politics. It's killing a lot of what is good about this place.
    - Finally, all the issues here are solvable. This can (and was) an amazing place to work. Actually addressing some of the issues, rather then just HR b.s, will really lift this place from just being an "average" place to work.

  6. Fantastic company!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Team Lead in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Team Lead in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    A very nice culture where everyone can fit in. Talented co-workers that are very helpful and never looks down on junior developers. A very Swedish company (even in other offices) in that all information is shared to all employees resulting in a very transparent leadership. All in all the best company I've ever worked for.

    Cons

    Still a bit rough around the edges and startuppy in software solutions. Things often ends up taking a bit more time than expected because of technical debt.

    Advice to Management

    Make sure that time is spent revisiting old functionality to make sure quality is on top.

  7. Helpful (11)

    A crazy journey with a lot of issues to deal with

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Marketing in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Marketing in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Lots of passionate and smart people work here, so there's lots to learn. We get to work with music every day, which is pretty awesome in itself. Some cool perks, like artist visits and gaming rooms. Fast growing (also a con, see below) company with a lot of potential.

    Cons

    Some serious growth pains in terms of frustrating politics, inexperienced managers, really poor compensation as well as clashing cultures (and even more politics) between different regions and managers. Stock option program is a bit of a joke to be honest. Management do a lot of talking, saying that they care and want to fairly compensate employees, but don't follow through. Some long-term employees have been treated ridiculously badly.

    Advice to Management

    Sort out the compensation, because at the moment it's not competitive for the employee calibre the company wants to attain. Sort out the politics BS, both in mid-level management and higher up the ladder. If a manager is not doing his job properly or does not want to be a manager at all, sort it out.

    Management: if you're going to talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk.

  8. Helpful (12)

    Poorly chosen mid-management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Product Manager in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Beig surrounded by the most passionate people in the world without doubt helps in performing well. The company attracts top notch talent that is inspiring to work alongside. Great learning opportunities and technical challenges.

    Cons

    Incredible growing pains. Teams with proven track records of failures still being put in charge of mission critical projects. Lots of inexperienced junior managers. Unusual number of games and political plays at middle management level. Salaries not competitive for the employee calibre the company wants to attain. Average perks. Very poor stock option program, with RSUs reserved only for senior management.

    Advice to Management

    Inexperienced and political managers are going to drive this company to the ground. Don't let this happen.

  9. Helpful (17)

    Some positives, a lot of negatives

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Working at Spotify is good for your CV. You will get to work for a company that has a reputation for attracting high-caliber engineers, which is true. It is a great learning environment: you get to work with very talented people in many interesting and exciting challenges.

    The working environment is great, the office is colourful, and the atmosphere relaxed. Most of the people working at the company are decent and friendly. (There is no 'bro' attitude here!) In most teams, developers are encouraged to not work overtime.

    It goes without saying that if you love music, Spotify is the place to work at. You get to work on projects that have a meaningful positive impact on millions of people worldwide. Your code will run on millions of devices.

    Cons

    Your salary will probably be low compared to the tech market average, and very low for Stockholm. Stockholm is very expensive, especially rent and dinner. If you move to Stockholm for Spotify, be prepared to negotiate (but don't expect too much). If you have the option to work in New York, you should take it, where Spotify pays twice as much (or higher, depending on various factors).

    Spotify does not offer many good additional benefits. The stock options program, for example, is difficult to afford, and there is no granting of options. The pension program is weak, compared to other similar tech firms.

    Spotify does not really have a training scheme for developers. Most developers might go to a conference every year, but not much else, or any other kind of training. If, however, Spotify benefits directly from it, then it is possible to go to more, e.g. if it includes speaking or recruiting.

    Spotify has stopped seeing itself as a tech company; this means that you don't have a lot of options to develop your career as a software engineer. The best strategy is to move to the product side of the company, and you are actively encouraged to do so. Developers are generally not expected to stay at Spotify for more than 2 years. This also means that the tech side is quite young on average; it is very hard for Spotify to attract or keep more experienced engineers, since it is not oriented towards that. (Not surprisingly, most recruitment resources are spent attracting fresh graduates).

    There is a lack of a performance evaluation process in the tech side of the company. This means that higher tech positions are mostly covered by external hires, due to a lack of confidence in existing people. The tech career ladder is fairly limited; it is often easier to get a lead position by applying to another company.

    Advice to Management

    My main advice to management would be this:

    - Spotify should start seeing itself again as a tech company; not exclusively, but a tech company still.

    - Make an effort to develop your engineers, and be prepared to pay them more, if you want to keep them and stay competitive.

  10. Helpful (11)

    Gliding into a tailspin

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - An international melting pot for some of greatest engineers in Europe.
     - Diverse pool of talents, where everyone is either 10X or T-shaped.
     - Fascinating problems to work on, right on the intersection of Arts and Technology.
     - You get to attend one conference of choice a year, anywhere in the world.
     - Swedish benefits (parental, health, etc) and the work-life balance are really great.

    Cons

    - Completely inadequate compensation, with huge disparity between STO and NYC.
    - Bug-ridden tech stack full of tech debt.
     - Stock option program benefits only the upper management, with even the oldest employees left with minimal benefits.
     - No growth opportunities.
     - Irresponsible HR, mostly interested in scoring another international travel.
     - Cliques rule the company.
     - People are hired based on where they worked before, with existing talent passed over.
     - Hiring from big corporations affects the culture negatively.
     - Management responsible for the largest engineering mishaps of the past year - the Black Redesign and My Music - ends up getting promoted.

    Advice to Management

    With the ongoing pivot, we are gliding into a tailspin. "Directors" on all levels are incredibly political and thwart engineering and product progress. Provide actual growth opportunities, not fake titles. Throw out the corporate newspeak you push so hard on us. We can smell it. Passion does not pay for food and vacation, so start paying adequately to who you hire. Either that, or Apple and Google are going to eat our lunch.

  11. Helpful (1)

    A great and relaxed place to work at.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)
    Current Employee - Systems Engineer in Stockholm, Stockholm (Sweden)

    I have been working at Spotify full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Projects that develop you in your profession. You have a great trust from managers. It is easy to combine family and life balance with freedom and trust from management and team. You have great colleagues to learn from in all different areas. Decent possibility for going on conferences and seminars.

    Cons

    Often very new managers with not to must experience. High pace that gives little time to reflection. Fast growing organization that gives some bios. Sometimes unclear directives from management, hard to prioritize.

    Advice to Management

    Better offices, ventilation, and bigger desks or better storage for your stuff.

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