Spotify’s social work ramps up the music discovery, as local brands start to tune in—UPDATED

There was plenty of excitement when music streaming service Spotify finally launched in New Zealand in May. And it has announced its latest numbers and a few big changes to make the service more social, more personalised and hopefully more attractive to advertisers. 

Now operating in 17 countries around the world, Spotify has 20 million users, with five million paying subscribers, one million of them in the US. And while NZ/Australia country manager Kate Vale says it doesn’t release customer data per market, she says “what I can tell you is that New Zealand and Australia have been the most successful country launches in Spotify’s history”. 

UPDATE: According to Nielsen Online Ratings, it started at launch with 29,000 unique audience in May, then month by month, 51,000, 55,000, 83,000, 119,000 and now peaking at 162,000. 

It now also has 20 million tracks (Metallica’s music spanning the band’s 30-year history is now also available to all Spotify users), which is the equivalent of having 1.5 million compact discs, she says. And that’s partially the reason for some of the recent changes, because it can be slightly confronting having so much music to choose from. Spotify already has an important link with Facebook, but it’s taking a leaf out of the social behemoth’s book, with the new features providing Spotify users with the chance to be led in the musical direction of their friends, New Zealand tastemakers and international slebs through the new Follow tab. 


It is also launching the Discover tab, which combines the best technology and social tools with content from Pitchfork, Songkick, Tunigo and many more content partners to help seek out the most relevant music and aid music discovery. 

Spotify is a universally lauded product—from users, artists and record companies (Vale says it has now given back $500 million to rights holders, or “70 percent of everything it makes”, and that’s doubled in just the past year). But, like any new media platform, “it takes a while to to gain traction when you’re dealing with big brands and agencies”. 

“We’re only six months in, but I think we’ve managed to gain enormous traction in a short time,” she says. “We do have a unique ad platform and we are shiny and new. But we’re still going through an enormous education process.” 

She says Spotify, which The New York Times said has been valued at $4 billion in May this year, is so appealing to brands because it is a way for them to associate themselves with music that they may have previously been precluded from using due to licensing issues. 

“Everyone loves music. So it’s a way to reach consumers when they’re listening to it and brands can really do that in a targeted way, whether it’s by age, time of day, genre or demographic.” 

Locally, the creative campaigns have been few and far between, but she singled out ASB and Saatchi & Saatchi’s Moodulator app that ran throughout the Olympics and tailored music to how users were feeling. And there have been plenty of other creative campaigns launched in Australia, including Seek LearningHyundai i30Coca-Cola Share a Coke and a Song on pack promotionAbsolut Greyhound, Ansell Skyn the Mix sexy time songs and YellowTail Wines’ curated playlists from celebrities for different wines. 

Vale told ninemsn back in May that Spotify had overtaken iTunes in some markets and, with founder Daniel Ek saying it’s more of a platform than a streaming service, brands like Coca-Cola, Absolut, Levi’s, Chevy, Converse and Subaru (where one campaign saw each participant listen to 70 minutes of music on its playlist, with a four percent click-through rate to First Car Story), seem to like what they see, perhaps because of the emotional connection people have with music. The opportunities for bespoke apps are also pretty cool, with Spotify/OMD holding a hack fest where one developer created an app that was able to monitor the user’s heartbeat and adjust the playlist to their pulse. 

“In Sweden and Norway we have overtaken iTunes in those markets and are now the number one digital contributor to the labels in those countries. And we are number two behind iTunes in all European markets and we are quickly catching up … we hope to see that trend occur here.”

Pandora relaunched its service in New Zealand last night and The Radio Network is launching the very popular iheartradio.co.nz (seemingly without the MediaWorks stations at this stage) next year. But Spotify’s main competition was really piracy, she says, and at an Ad Age Digital conference, Ek said 500 million people listened to music illegally, which has led to a 52 percent decrease in music industry revenue.

Artists, celebrities and media partners for the Follow Tab include:


·         Armin van Buuren

·         Ashton Kutcher

·         Barack Obama

·         Bruno Mars

·         Cody Simpson

·         Dannii Minogue

·         David Guetta

·         Ed Sheeran

·         Jason Derulo

·         Justin Bieber

·         Florence + The Machine

·         Katy Perry

·         Keith Urban

·         Ke$ha

·         Lana Del Rey

·         Lisa Mitchell

·         Maroon 5

·         Metallica

·         NME

·         One Direction

·         Paul McCartney

·         Robbie Williams

·         Shakira

·         SKRILLEX

·         Slash

·         Usher

·         The Wanted

·         We are Hunted

·         The xx


·         Bulletproof

·         Dane Rumble

·         David Dallas

·         Decortica

·         Drew Neemia

·         Flying Nun Records

·         Jamie McDell

·         Jessie Gurunathan

·         Junica

·         Kimberley Crossman

·         Kimbra

·         Leah Light

·         Michelle Ang

·         Ruby Frost

·         Titanium

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