Today is a public holiday and while I’m pleased to have the day off I am missing my new favorite app Spotify. That to the uninitiated is the Swedish music streaming service that launched in Australia a few weeks ago. Spotify has agreements with major music labels and artists, allowing users to listen to music through its desktop or mobile applications. The interface looks like a complete clone of iTunes which makes starting off tasks like creating your first playlist really easy. Spotify offers both free as well as paid access options for the service. Sign up is usually using your Facebook login, so you can share what you listen to and also observe what your Facebook friends (also on Spotify) are listening to. Finally a great mash of the social graph and music listening – something Apple attempted and failed with Ping. This fosters a sense of community, by enabling playlist sharing and music discovery through your friends song choices. The free version comes with ads, but with thousands of Australian youngsters scrambling to trial the service this is a great investment for first movers like CBA and Virgin Money.
In my own office, I can see a lot of colleagues hooked into the service all day an indication of its how addictive it is. Spotifys game plan is that once users create a lot of playlists and become addicted, they will eventually upgrade to one of the premium services. This is a bold model in todays times with youngsters loathe to pay for content be it TV shows, music or movies. It may also depend on how frequent or disruptive the ads become to the listening experience. Currently with only a handful of advertisers at launch, I find the ads on the free version less noticeable than on commercial radio.
Then there’s the inevitable universe of Spotify apps, helping new users discover and experience music in novel ways. Some notable ones are We are Hunted and Fellody, the latter helps find potential dates based on similar musical tastes. While its early days for brands in Australia, there are notable examples of brands like UFC overseas, creating successful Spotify campaigns. As with other emerging social startups like Pinterest and Instagram, the key for brands is to understand the audience motivations on the specific social network and then tailor their promotion to it.