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Spotify Links Musical Tastes to Marketing
Through its Understanding People Through Music initiative, Spotify wants to help marketers reach consumers based on what they stream
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Spotify in mid-July released Spotify.Me, a tool that provides subscribers of the music, podcast, and video streaming website with feedback on their listening habits. But that same listener data can also be used to help companies connect with listeners.

Spotify.Me is part of the music streaming service’s Understanding People Through Music initiative, which comes under the umbrella of Spotify for Brands. The goal, not surprisingly, is to persuade more companies to advertise on Spotify.

The Understanding People Through Music initiative separates users’ streaming habits into three categories: Discovery, Diversity, and Tilt. Discovery measures how much people seek out unfamiliar music; diversity measures the range of music to which people listen; and tilt measures how actively people curate their streaming experience. These categories are then further subdivided into personality types: For example, the diversity category has “reliables,” who stick to their favorite songs, and “explorers,” who seek out unfamiliar ones. Spotify then goes a step further to connect these patterns to behaviors not related to music streaming: For example, “reliables” are more likely to recommend a brand or company to a friend. 

Spotify determined these streaming habits by analyzing the data of more than 140 million of its users and then established the connections to other behaviors by surveying listeners to “learn how their streaming habits relate to what they’re like offline, from their personality traits and brand sentiments to their purchase behaviors.” 

Among the findings on their music tastes, Spotify.Me can supply subscribers—and marketers—with users’ top artists, tracks and genres; a graph showing when they listen; and even the energy levels associated with their tastes. Companies, ideally, could then use that data when planning their campaigns on Spotify.

“What Spotify has done is said, ‘Look, the way people listen to music and what it says about their behavior is a good predictor of how they will behave relative to certain products and services,’” Dipanjan Chatterjee, vice president and principal analyst serving marketing professionals at Forrester, says. “They have access to all of these listening patterns for their users, so they can go in and crunch that data and create some kind of segmentation and find out habits of users.”

The data might not necessarily be able to tell marketers which Spotify users like doughnuts or might prefer to go on vacation to Italy, but that can be gleaned from separate surveys.

“We also surveyed listeners around the world to learn how their streaming habits relate to what they’re like offline,” Spotify says on its website.

“There are two ways that data like this could be useful: It could be useful directly to the brands that advertise on Spotify today, and it could potentially be useful to a whole different set of brands that can leverage this intelligence about people’s listening behaviors,” Chatterjee says.

To show how this kind of data could be useful to that second set of companies, Chatterjee uses the example of The Weather Channel. “The Weather Channel used to be a place you would go to find out if it was going to rain tomorrow,” he says. “Then it realized that it was sitting with this treasure trove of data, and that there were scores of businesses that would benefit tremendously from having access to data and predictions like this. 

“Perhaps Spotify could go to music labels and say, ‘Hey, let me tell you about what works with what kind of folks, and let me provide you with intelligence about how to create music and how to create a winning value proposition around music,” he speculates. “Anytime you have so much data, the question is can you do something with it, and can you do something with it outside of your immediate zone of influence.” 

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