Top Spotify Executive Mike Biggane Exiting for Universal Music Group

Despite its superior work environment, Sweden's streaming giant battles turnover.

Mike Biggane, Spotify’s global head of curation strategy, is leaving the company for a new position at Universal Music Group, sources tell Variety. Among the music streaming giant’s top executives, he follows the recently reported departure of Spotify’s chief economist Will Page, who will stay on as a consultant while writing a book. News of Biggane’s impending exit was first reported by Hits.

Biggane has spent nearly six years at Spotify, starting as pop editor in 2014, then rising to head of global genre groups in 2018. He was named to his current position in January of this year. He’ll stay on through the end of the summer and possibly into early fall.

At UMG, he’s expected to hold a senior cross-label role for which he purportedly received a hefty offer. Biggane joins another Spotify defector, Dave Rocco, who left his job as global head of artist and label marketing for an EVP position at UMG in April 2018. Not unlike Biggane, he Rocco had received a promotion weeks before his departure. (Spotify and UMG declined comment.)

The Swedish company’s senior turnover rate is surprising considering its corporate culture is aimed at giving employees a superior work environment and offers generous benefits. “There are smart people there, but it’s all fiefdoms,” says one source. “Nobody knows what they’re supposed to do and they don’t get along. The strategy changes every few months.”

Another points to Spotify’s own stratospheric growth, suggesting that the company is now too big for its home city of Stockholm and that CEO Daniel Ek, by not being based in New York, is effectively an “absentee manager.”

In Biggane’s case, an insider posits that, after six years at Spotify, he was looking for a change and had his sights set on a label job. As for other departures, the company’s defense is its very growth and the fast-paced nature of the technology.

Indeed, in an interview with Variety, the co-author of the book “Spotify Untold” noted that, “Spotify carries itself like a U.S. company” and that “Ek wants to compete for talent with Google, Amazon and Apple – not with regional players in Europe.”

Among the recent hires at Spotify are Chaka Zulu, who joined in April as head of artist and talent relations, and Jeremy Erlich, who started in June as head of music strategy.

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