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Spotify: A Masterclass in Customer-First Creative Strategy

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INFLUENCER: RAPP's Perla Bloom on how Beyoncé's recent actions mirror the strategy that Spotify has adopted since it started

Spotify: A Masterclass in Customer-First Creative Strategy

Despite Beyoncé's lyrics in 2018 ‘If I gave two fucks about streaming numbers, would have put Lemonade up on Spotify’, she recently released Lemonade on its three-year anniversary for the first time on Spotify and all other streaming platforms. 

Why now? The timing coincided with the release of her much-anticipated documentary Homecoming and its accompanying soundtrack (also released on Spotify), which shows the eight month preparation for her Coachella performance. The documentary reveals the highs and the many lows of the production and rehearsal process, in the wake of the chaotic birth of her twins just one month prior. We witness a never before seen vulnerable Beyoncé who suffers exhaustion, post-baby body image struggles and juggling her husband, kids and career ‘just like everyone else’. The documentary, the Spotify u-turn – she’s adding new vulnerability, as well as adding another authentic dimension to her brand by increasing her transparency. 

More interestingly however, is that her actions mirror the strategy that Spotify has adopted since it started. This authentic and transparent creative strategy, as well as its exceptionally astute use of data and personalisation has helped to make it the biggest name in online music with over 140 million users globally.

How did they get here?


Authenticity

Spotify know that music is a passion for many millions of their customers, so authenticity has been absolutely key to building and maintaining a strong and loyal database of fans. They have an inclusive and equally transparent mantra of ‘music is for everyone’ which avoids monopolising artists’ music, despite every other streaming service adopting this strategy. I also loved the fact they readily admitted that that they didn’t have Beyoncé’s Lemonade, telling customers they were ‘working on it’. 


Purpose

Spotify might be a commercial business, but their purpose is clear – music and all the joy it has to offer. The artists, the fans, the albums, the diversity, the one hit wonders, the downright weird. Spotify don’t just promote the chart toppers and the cash cows, they understand that music fans want access to a wide repertoire of music and will encourage a long tail of new and diverse types of music. Better still, they also allow for independent artists to upload their songs without a music label onto the platform.


Data and Personalisation

Spotify is a digital first, data and tech led business which they have used to build their brand and their audience. No doubt, we have all taken advantage of ‘Discover Weekly’, our very own personally curated playlist. Or ‘Release Radar’ which gives listeners exclusive notifications about new music they might like, all based on their data and mood-related playlists, sometimes as niche as ‘kitchen swagger’. 

Spotify have also looked at the data to allow them to send these playlists out at the optimum time – the Discover Weekly playlist for example drops on a Monday morning when users are likely to feel less inspired or motivated to select their own music. It’s a clever move. 

But the data also has a human touch. Spotify has a team of curators (yes, actual people) that filter the machine’s choices to create what they call ‘algotorial’ recommendations, meant to describe a mix of algorithms and editorial curation the company uses to design their playlists. A perfect combination of AI and human empathy. 

Whilst other music services veer users toward the latest acts they are marketing - a far cry from what users want or need - Spotify is becoming an invaluable part of the music fan’s day through their considered and strategic personalisation.

And of course, their Wrap Up campaign of 2018 – a valuable playback of the user’s annual Spotify activity in comparison to other users making it was a brilliant manifestation of their entire creative and data strategy. It showed they understood the individual through their music choices and what kind of genre they listened to most, causing people to excitedly update their Instagram stories to inform everyone that their favourite genre was only listened to by X amount of other Spotify users. This was a genius way to remind listeners of Spotify’s ability to acknowledge the originality in everyone.

So, there you have it. Spotify rules the world. Well, the music world – making up 30% of the total revenue generated by the recorded music industry and 42% of the streaming world.

Along with their clear purpose and authenticity, their customer-first brand strategy and single minded-focus on the individual has undoubtedly been paramount to its success. Alex Underwood, VP and head of global strategic partnerships & verticals at Spotify said, "Personalisation should be a trigger to inspire positive emotional resonance and reaction". For me and for millions of others, it has done just that and it’s why Spotify will continue to rule the music world. Until someone who is even smarter with their data topples them.



Perla Bloom is a strategist at RAPP UK

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RAPP, Tue, 11 Jun 2019 09:09:59 GMT