With over 140 million monthly active users who listen to over 1.7 billion hours a month, Spotify has more than enough data at its disposal. In 2016, it cleverly translated this vast amounts of user insights into a global ad campaign that summarized the year of music and culture. Witty ads like “Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ the day of the Brexit Vote. Hang in There.” in London and “Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton soundtrack 5,376 times this year. Can you get us tickets? in New York City were wildly engaging in generating awareness for the streaming music service.

In marketing, when something works, ride it until the wheels fall off, and Spotify brought back its year-in-review campaign. Deemed “2018 Goals”, ads and billboards were launched in 18 markets globally, and feature 70 artists are paired with witty data-backed facts. The campaign’s direction seems to take an optimistic tone, which makes sense with all the ridiculousness and shenanigans that occurred this past year. Music tends to be a preferred channel to relieve tension, anger, and sadness in addition to being a fuel for celebration and joy. For that, music is a lifeline for culture, and Spotify captures that in its advertising.

“From the music that brought us together to the quirks that make us individuals, Spotify’s data once again provides a unique perspective on culture and music moments,” said the company in a release. Check out some examples of ads below.

The campaign should help Spotify strengthen its position as the market leader in a crowded streaming music space. Even though its closest competitor Apple Music has roughly 20% of its userbase (30 million subscribers), competition is still fierce as streaming music continues to grow. Streaming accounted for 62% of the music industry’s total revenue , with digital downloads (19%) and physical sales (16%) falling way behind. This is great news for players like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal as consumer dollars are funneling towards them. However, with music catalogs being mostly similar across platforms, there are low user retention barriers, meaning that it’s easy for music fans to switch between the different services without sacrificing much.  Hense the reason for these companies to shell out major dollars to artists to get rights to exclusive content and releases. In industries where product differentiation is low, branding becomes even more important, which makes Spotify’s “2018 Goals” a strong strategy. To capitalize on the awareness, Spotify is offering a year of its ad-free Premium service for $99which equates to 2 months free.


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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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