Moving to Mainstream Spotify: Can They Regain Their Edge with Music Lovers?
Posted by Laurel Tripp 06:57 No Comments
The new Spotify ad to air on TV during "The Voice" Monday night is a part of a larger campaign meant to create a visceral connection between consumers and the Spotify brand. Spotify's need: increase active users to close the gap between themselves and Pandora (who has close to three times the amount of active users as Spotify). Their solution: increase awareness of the product to millions of potential listeners and differentiate in the crowded field of streaming music services by convincing music lovers that Spotify is "for music".
In other words, increase customer acquisition through an emotional connection.
This foray into traditional media is an interesting tack for a company so entrenched in new media, particularly social. Perhaps the new campaign will work. But the key to the long-term business success of these types of services lies in the true connections they create with their customers, not something created through a Madison Avenue campaign designed, tested, and executed to be "moving".
A Music Service Music Lovers Love(d)
Spotify started off as the the service with the best user experience (don't take my word for it; this is from the mouths of all my UX friends). Spotify loyalists could list out what makes it so great:
• The interface is more intuitive than Pandora.
• It is integrated with music you already have.
• It has a better algorithm for serving you music you'll like.
• It's just beautifully designed. It is Swedish, after all.
The original loyalists spent hours customizing their experience in Spotify, creating and tweaking playlists. They evangelized the service as they talked about it in real life and through their online social networks. As something that defines who we are, music (and the music service that supports it) is inherently sharable. As such, Spotify spread like wildfire, albeit in limited circles.
Facebook is for Customer Acquisition
The relationship between Facebook and Spotify seems to be a natural extension of music lovers wanting to share. But Spotify is in Facebook's bed to acquire customers, plain and simple. And it's affective. After the 2011 ability to publish Spotify listening activity on Facebook, the number of active users skyrocketed.
We've all seen this type of thing in our Facebook feeds...
• "So and so just ran 2.3 miles with Nike+."
• "So and so just played some silly game for the last 7 hours when I should have been working.
• "So and so just listened to these songs on Spotify."
The beauty of the Spotify notification is that you can play the same music that your friend is listening to - which is awesome when your friend is really good at uncovering hidden musical gems. But the catch is that you have to download the Spotify app to listen.
Bam! They got you. And once you start listening, that will post to Facebook and the cycle continues. Brilliant execution of Customer Acquisition: 101.
Facebook is NOT for Customer Satisfaction
But this acquisition strategy occasionally comes at the cost of the good user experience consumers have come to expect from Spotify. Certainly, if I'm a music buff, I want to share the new, independent band that I'm listening to (Facebook is for showing off after all). However, if I'm listening to Neil Diamond, I might want to keep that to myself.
This happened recently to a coworker here at HYDRANT (not the Neil Diamond part, but the inadvertent broadcasting of Spotify on Facebook). When he found out, he tried to disconnect the Facebook and Spotify relationship. In the process, he lost all of the playlists that he'd painstakingly created over the last few years.
What?!? You can't just transfer your account to an email? Nope, you have to delete your account and start a new one. Spotify is basically telling their loyal music lovers, "That'll show you! Don't stand in the way of our brilliant acquisition strategy! Muuuhaha!!!"
Rekindling the Love
Customer acquisition shouldn't feel like being held hostage. Considering the inherently social aspects of music, consumers need to love the service, not feel like they have no other choice. There are too many other options and consumers are too fickle for Spotify to continue to rely on this strategy. This is the predicament of an acquisition strategy that comes in direct conflict with user experience (and, by extension, their retention strategy).
Perhaps this is where the new ad campaign fits in: generating that old feeling of love of music.
But I fear this may simply reflect that they can't maintain the user experience that the original customers to Spotify loved so much. Instead of being "for music" they should be "for music lovers". And to do that they need to return their focus to the experience their users have with their product.