The Playlist ending explained – what does the ending say about Spotify?

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 13, 2022 (Last updated: December 2, 2023)
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Our recap of the Netflix limited series The Playlist episode 6, “The Artist,” contains spoilers and discusses the ending.

The Playlist saved the best until the last. The story toys you until the finale, compiling the major players in the market, and then it heralds the most crucial subject for the end — the Spotify artists.

In episode 6, “The Artist,” Daniel Ek faces his most challenging task yet, in the most fictional storytelling of the company thus far in the series. The story is based in the future, 2024, and Daniel’s childhood friend and talented artist, Bobbi T, has created an activist group against Spotify due to perceived exploitation — the group is called “Scratch The Record.” It’s a story of frenemies, as Bobbi T is the most vocal leader of the group and the most hurtful to Daniel’s ambitions for the Spotify platform.

But what does the ending of The Playlist mean, and what does it say about Spotify?

The Playlist episode 6 – the ending explained

Throughout episode 6, Daniel Ek faces a professional and personal challenge. There is public outcry in Sweden over the wages artists receive from Spotify. There’s a strong argument that the platform is exploitative, giving too much revenue to the label companies and Spotify itself.

Daniel Ek refuses to sell Spotify and instead stands his ground, believing streaming is the future. But to stand his ground, Daniel must face the music and the US Congress.

And so he does; Daniel takes questions from Congressional Members in 2026; he endures a line of questioning, and a certain congresswoman attempts to prove that Spotify is a monopoly that unfairly makes music into a cartel space. Daniel refutes that idea and indirectly makes the hearing into sound bites, sounding out to potential investors, which inevitably works as he secures a billion-dollar loan. 

But, of course, Daniel is conflicted. Seeing his childhood friend Bobbi T answer questions to Congress has him at a crossroads. It’s a tale of two worlds, two different dreams. Daniel refuses to give up his dream for hers.

At the end of episode 6, Daniel Ek admits to Bobbi T that he has one regret. He regrets the decisions made over Spotify in the negotiation room and wishes he had listened to fewer people. This brings an ironic slant to the story, as earlier in the series Bobbi T highlights how he doesn’t listen to enough people and has always been good at arguing his points. By the end of the series, Daniel tells Bobbi T that the future will be about change. And then, in a bold move by the production team, it shows the actor of the character on set finishing the filming, bringing the audience to the reality that this is a fictional series.

What does The Playlist ending say about Spotify?

But what does it mean? I suppose due to the choice of timelines of 2024 and 2026, the series is warning about the potential issues arising from music streaming that could make millions of artists not heard. It highlights the dangers of a monopoly music platform that could be indirectly and directly exploitative if they make the wrong turn.

There’s also a sadness that a platform like Spotify ends up in for questioning in front of Congress. Should creativity and music be argued in front of lawmakers, or should the industry be fair enough for anyone good enough to be in that sector? The ending of The Playlist is a potential premonition, showing what could be the future and not necessarily what the reality is in the present.

But we’ve all seen reports of specific artists leaving Spotify, voicing their dismay at the business model or its stance on censorship. Some major artists have left and rejoined the platform (Taylor Swift rejoined Spotify in 2018). It feels like the music platform has always been balanced between the good and the bad, and this series highlights the pros and cons of having a global, accessible music streaming service in a monopolistic way.

Let’s hope that Spotify continues making the right decisions.

What did you think of The Playlist episode 6 and the ending? What do you think the ending says about Spotify? Comment below.

Endings Explained, Netflix, Streaming Service, TV - Ending Explained, TV Recaps
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