The Marketing Might of Music Streaming


Do you like music? Okay, stupid question: I might as well ask if you like converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, or Christmas Dinner. Everyone loves a good tune – with the possible exception of Andrew Lloyd Webber – and there’s nothing better than getting it for nothing. Remember how the holy grail of free music lured an entire generation into the open paws of that creepy Napster cat? Until the Recording Industry Association tied the bugger up in a burlap sack and chucked it in the Mississippi, of course.

Now, after a miserable half-decade of having to fork over cash for music, the free tunes are back; and it’s all thanks to applications like Spotify, we7 and Grooveshark. Music streaming services like these have become incredibly popular in an impossibly short amount of time, and they’re already having a big impact on the way music is made, distributed and charted. But forget all that. The important bit for us to realise is this: with all new forms of music consumption come all new advertising opportunities…

What’s all this?
Let’s focus on Spotify for a minute. It’s only been around since October last year, and it’s only been available to everyone since February, yet it now has millions of regular users, and over 10,000 new music lovers signing up each day. Spotify allows you to listen to as much music as you like, whenever you like, but crowbars in “a few 30 second adverts here and there” – usually around every fifth song. They are primarily audio ads, we7pumped directly into the ear of the eager listener, but are also accompanied by visual banners with direct click-throughs to a relevant website. The application also has various silent skyscrapers and banners all over the place, which are unrelated to the audio.

By contrast, we7 – which boasts over 2 million users enjoying over 3.5 million tracks – puts a ‘blipvert’ (a 3 to 5 second ad) between all the songs in your playlist. Due to the short length of the advert, the audio is normally employed as a tool to simply draw the attention of the listener to the clickable banner that accompanies it.

An advertiser’s dream
Unlike three minute radio ad breaks, during which listeners may decide to flick over to 5 Live to check the football results, Spotify’s short adverts offer less opportunity for fidgety listeners to look elsewhere before the next song starts – and we7’s blipverts give them absolutely no chance. Music boffins have also discovered that both services are regularly being used for house parties – an arena in which the radio is traditionally shunned – so advertisers have the opportunity to reach a large (inebriated, susceptible) audience.

Spotify are also doing their bit to help advertisers hone in on their audience, as the company have recently announced targeted advertising opportunities based on demographics, geographics and the listening habits of their members. They’re even offering ‘mood based marketing’, where advertisers can select music genres or even piggyback on artists that they consider to be ‘closely related’ to their product. For example, someone listening to Ibiza Chillout may be in the perfect mood to hear about an 18-30 beach holiday, while someone listening to Radiohead may be on the lookout for a bottle of vodka and a rope. Spotify also offers tracking and reporting as standard, so you can check how your ads are getting on.spotify2

Personal and intimate
Unless you’re advertising Zimmer frames or Werther’s Originals, the chances are that at least some of your target audience are already using music streaming services. Advertising on Spotify or we7 allows a brand to benefit from association with an experience that people are passionate about. Who knows: if they hear it often enough, your product could become an intrinsic part of a current or potential customer’s favourite album.

With we7, this may literally become the case. Their proposed MediaGraft technology (patent pending) would allow consumers to download music tracks, each with an advertising message grafted onto it. The ad will be dynamically chosen based on a range of known or implied demographics, allowing advertisers to personalise them. But the real beauty of this is that the track can then be played where and when the consumer desires, on a technology of their choice. Suddenly, your product is not only an intrinsic part of their favourite song, but becomes a part of the subsequent life-affirming experiences they have while listening to it.

Slick and professional
Advertising on a music streaming service allows you to get directly into the ears of your audience with targeted audio adverts. You can even personalise and localise the banner adverts that accompany them. This means that, for a potential customer, this doesn’t feel like a mass marketing campaign; it feels like an intimate message from somebody who understands their lifestyle and the music they enjoy.

Marketers are beginning to cotton onto the benefits of advertising on music streaming services. Mere months ago, Spotify was dominated with poor quality adverts from obscure brands. For example, menswear brand Suitopia made an appearance at least once a bloody hour, while unsigned music artists violated Suitopiayour inner ear with a snippet from their self-released debut album. But the application is slowly being populated with a variety of slick, professional ads for multinational companies like Vodafone and global superstar musicians like Lady Gaga. Even the Conservative Party are planning to use Spotify to gather support during next year’s general election. More and more marketing agencies are getting involved every day

So, if you want to embrace the unique marketing opportunities offered by music streaming services, now’s the time. And if you need convincing that advertising on one of these applications can have a significant effect on brand awareness, just ask any of the 2.7 million regular Spotify users whether they’ve heard of Suitopia.

Then ask everyone else.

This article was first published by Red C Magazine on 24th September 2009. You can see the original post here.

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