Graham James — Spotify’s veteran publicist, who has endured vast amounts of abuse and aggressive questioning from reporters with (mostly) unflappable good humor in the six and a half years since he joined the company — is stepping down next month, sources tell Variety. He has no set destination at this point and is planning on taking some time off, the sources added.
Dustee Jenkins, who was named the company’s head of public relations in November, will relocate to New York in the coming weeks.
James was the streaming giant’s first communications hire in the U.S., joining shortly after its Stateside launch in July of 2011. Over the years he has played no small role in helping its U.S. subscriber base grow from 3 million to 80 million, its launches in Latin America and Canada, and not least guiding it through its long-rumored successful direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange in April — the company is now valued at $34 billion.
He also helped steer the company through more controversial topics, such as its oft-criticized royalty rates, Taylor Swift’s withdrawal of her music from the service, and most recently the company’s brief, relentlessly criticized and since-revised policies toward “hateful conduct” and “hate speech” — all while working with a CEO, Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek, who rarely speaks to the press.
Spotify has long had a rapid employee turnover but James joins several veterans who have left the company in the past year, particularly after the public listing, including global head of creator services Troy Carter, global head of artist & industry partnerships Mark Williamson, senior marketing and communications exec Angela Watts, and RapCaviar playlist curator Tuma Basa and global head of artist and label marketing Dave Rocco.