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More Than Music: What Spotify’s Data-Driven Content Can Teach Today’s Marketers

Insights July 14, 2017

If you take a walk around Terakeet’s office, one of the first things you’ll notice is the amount of people working with headphones in their ears. Music streaming services are displayed on employees’ monitors, self-made playlists are shared, and Google Hangouts is used as a way for employees to suggest songs. The bottom line is that music’s a big part of the work day around here. While the jury is still out on whether having “Despacito” on repeat can do anything other than make you hate Justin Bieber even more than you already do, it’s been proven that various types of music can increase productivity at work.

If I’m not in a meeting, you’ll likely find me plugged in and listening to songs via Spotify. A major advantage of the music streaming platform is its ability to turn users’ listening data into curated playlists, artist recommendations, and concert suggestions to personalize a listener’s experience. From the Daily Mix playlists that feature artists I might like based on my listening habits, to the year-end roundup showcasing the listening themes of my year, Spotify hits the nail on the head when it comes to using data to deliver personalized insights.

Using Data To Drive Insights

Companies using their proprietary data for marketing purposes is nothing new. It makes sense for a company to highlight their user data to boost brand awareness and to highlight findings about their industry and product that quite literally cannot be found anywhere else. For example, take Spotify’s late 2016 ad campaign that utilized billboards to draw some bizarre, timely, and playful conclusions using music listening trends of that year. My personal favorite was a headline that used an individual’s listening data – how they listened to Bieber’s hit “Sorry” 42 times on Valentine’s Day – to wonder aloud about what the user could have possibly done wrong.

Photo Source: Adweek

If you dig into Spotify’s site beyond the listening app, you’ll discover Spotify’s utilization of their proprietary data again in their Insights subdomain, a collection of work by writers, engineers, analysts, and data geniuses who offer data-driven articles about how people experience music.

For one of their recent posts, the streaming service teamed up with Accuweather to determine how weather affects our listening habits. 30 cities and eight audio attributes were analyzed to see if weather played a role in what type of music users listened to on a given day. For the majority of cities, sunnier days meant that users listened to happier, upbeat music while rainy days spurred on the enjoyment of sadder, low-energy songs.

Through the combination of two universally experienced events, weather, and music, Spotify’s post creates the potential for an online marketing goldmine in the form of naturally earned branded mentions and visibility. Although conjuring a juicy narrative from your data isn’t always easy, the effort in gathering the insights can be well worth it if the promotion after publishing is done right.

If You (Just) Build It, They Will Not Come

In the age of social media, content-focused Google algorithm updates, and instant gratification, promoting your brand is a key piece in the classic marketing puzzle, and an imperative step to take if you want people to naturally talk about your product. Organic, unsolicited mentions of your brand will equal links back to your site, and these links create an opportunity for improved rankings in search and brand visibility that could far surpass the cost of any promotion.

It’s in this area of promotion that Spotify could have done better in order to garner more visibility and these coveted earned links. For starters, consider the large number of music publications that would love to be one of the few to share this exclusive data. Magazines like Billboard and Rolling Stone cater to a music-obsessed audience who likely would have continued to promote the proprietary data via their own social channels, blogs, and websites. When it comes to working with publications, giving them the rights to exclusive, proprietary data yields effortless, endless exposure because you’re tapping into larger audiences.

Another example? Spotify could’ve partnered with music journalists, bloggers, and other influencers from different cities, encouraging them to give their take on the insights. Prompting them to create and share their own Spotify-sponsored, local weather-based playlists would undoubtedly broaden the promotional footprint. Similar to a partnership with music publications, these influencers each have their own audiences and opinions on the data, which would mean getting in front of more eyes and earning more links.

Spotify and Accuweather’s partnership signifies an important fact in today’s marketing landscape. Companies can and should utilize their proprietary data both for the sake of their business and for the clients (or in this case, listeners) that they serve. From demonstrating that you have expertise in your area of business to providing information that prospective clients will want to know, the rewards stand to far outweigh the risks involved with sharing company-specific knowledge.

You could argue that Spotify has enough brand recognition around its music streaming service to allow for it to simply publish insights without further promotion. This is probably what Spotify thinks, too. But, big or small, brands must realize that they should always take their own proprietary data one step further if they want to stay that many steps ahead of their ever-changing industry competitors who are likely willing to take the leap.

So, the next time you sing along to “Despacito” in your car on a summer day, know that your love of Justin Bieber can do more than just put you in a good mood. It illustrates the unavoidable fact that personalized data and insights have the potential to do wonders for both the small and big fish swimming in the marketing pond.

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