With more music than ever streaming into the ears of Americans, Spotify is making a huge push to win marketing hearts and minds. At a pair of advertising and marketing conferences in New York this week, the streaming music giant mounted a full-court press on the world’s advertising professionals.
“I’m very impressed with the way they’re marketing themselves,” said Carla Eboli, the chief marketing officer at multicultural marketing agency Dieste. “I do not recall when I saw Spotify marketing itself so strongly on any other occasion.”
Spotify planted top executives on panels in both conferences, Advertising Week and IAB MIXX; it picked up the lunch tab for IAB MIXX attendees Monday, and it has been liberally handing out free three-month trials to its premium tier. Meanwhile, its founder, Daniel Ek, just hours removed from a root canal, gutted out a trans-Atlantic fireside chat.
Beyond those friendly gestures, Spotify also has put itself in position to close serious deals. It flew all of its global regional ad directors to New York for meetings at the company’s global business headquarters, and it will be hosting meetings all week.
Spotify pulled out all the stops because, after years of quietly heating up, streaming music is beginning to boil. According to Spotify chief revenue officer Jeff Levick “close to 100 million” people will be using Spotify by the end of the year, a substantial uptick from the 75 million users the company announced just a couple months ago. Streaming music is the fastest growing revenue segment of the recorded music industry, and by 2016, its gains are expected to be substantial enough to drive the industry’s first return to meaningful growth in nearly 20 years.
That growth is fine for the music industry, but it is particularly of interest to marketers because it's being driven by millennials. According to research from Ericcson, more than 90 percent of millennials stream music, and Spotify's claims that streaming speaks to millennials was enough to draw a crowd: Hundreds of Advertising Week attendees queued up Monday for a panel featuring the chief marketing officers of Spotify and Pandora half an hour before the doors opened.
In addition to being popular with millennials, Spotify is making the case it can reach them in almost any context: after school, at work, even in the shower, thanks to large amount of data the company has culled about when and where its users listen.
Combine all that with the fact the average Spotify user listens to music on the service for 2 1/2 hours a day, and marketers are sitting straight in their chairs. "I feel like they're talking to music lovers rather than age brackets," said Diana Bald, senior managing director for national agency and strategic partnerships at Libert Mutual Insurance.
As always, some marketers are still holding out. "I feel that there's a lot more to do," said Samron Jude, the director and co-founder of ad network Mediastinct. "You can do so much more with that kind of data."
Indeed, Spotify has amassed so much information about how and when its users are listening to music it may not know what to do with it. After laying out the various moments when users listen to Spotify throughout a day or year, Levick added, "We'll come next year with an opinion on what you should be doing with it."