Spotify Social – a tool for viral marketing?

Last week, Spotify begun rolling out the new version of its software. This was described as the largest feature upgrade since their launch in late 2008. The new Spotify mostly has new functionality in two areas: social networking and local music library. Spotify’s local music library connection poses a real threat to Apple as the service now allows you to play your local music files (music in your iTunes Music Library, for example), eliminating the need to use both Spotify and iTunes for many users. However, I will focus on Spotify Social – connecting Spotify to Facebook – that has some interesting implications for marketers.

Many event organizers had embraced Spotify already before the upgrade. Just look at the event details of any concert at Debaser and you will find a link to a selected track by the artist in question. Some of the many music festivals organized in the Nordic countries this summer link to a Spotify playlist on their website, see for eample Hultsfred (they actually have several playlists for different genres), Pori Jazz, and Flow Festival (listening to that one as I’m writing this). A Spotify playlist is a convenient way of giving the audience a taste of what the festival has to offer.

Add Spotify Social and you have a viral marketing tool! That’s obviously an overstatement – but Spotify Social does have potential in spreading playlists in social networks. With the old Spotify, a branded playlist would have to be really really amazing for a user to post the link to their Facebook profile. The new Spotify automates this. Whenever I subscribe to a playlist, my friends on Facebook will see this in their feed. Maybe some of them will click the link and listen to the playlist. This way event organizers can potentially use playlists to reach new audiences, not just communicate with the ones that have already entered their site.

That is the potential. In reality, many questions remain. Do people click on the Spotify playlist links auto-shared by their friends? What if auto-sharing makes these links so many they become an annoyance? In my opinion, Spotify could do much more than it currently does to facilitate the viral spreading of playlists. For example, the posts that Spotify feeds to Facebook only contain the name and creator of the playlist – why not tell something more about the playlist? Why not let organizations customize their playlists to include information on how to for example buy tickets for the event?

Finally, it is clear that event organizers aren’t the only organizations that could use Spotify playlists in marketing. Some are already doing just that. During a Media Management guest lecture (and during his TEDxSSE4m talk), Tomas Bacoccoli of MTG Radio talked about the power of sound and music in branding. According to him, music has a central role in touching people’s emotions. This seems to be a hot topic right now as I recently heard of a book called Sounds like branding – they were advertising it on Spotify, weren’t they? – published by the brand communication agency Heartbeat that specializes in music. For now, Sounds like branding has only been released in Swedish. However, you can sign up for “an exclusive beta version” – whatever that might be – of the English release here.

How would you use Spotify playlists in marketing?

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About Riikka

Student in the Marketing and Media Management program at SSE. Some of the things I like are: baking cakes and drinking tea, research, working with people who love what they are doing. One of the admins for this blog.
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One Response to Spotify Social – a tool for viral marketing?

  1. Eleni Miliou says:

    Well, I don’t know about playlists but recently a band (Hurts) used Spotify to market their new album by inviting listeners to participate in an interactive audio novel. To see (or hear) for yourself search for “a5m4” on Spotify. God, I love Marketing!

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