Modern Day Vinyl

For a streaming service, Spotify seems transfixed with the notion of its antithesis – Vinyl. Whether in the silhouettes used to display albums that lack the original artwork or in the records sold under the ‘offers’ section, it seems peculiar that the notion of physical music would be hijacked by Spotify, the world’s largest streaming service. Yet despite a vinyl aesthetic assuring Spotify’s place within the artillery of apps of any millennial, it should come as no surprise that Spotify’s key agenda during this discussion was to prophesise that the future of music lies with streaming.

Ubiquity seems to be the cornerstone of Spotify’s phenomenal rise. Their lightweight software means they can easily unleash a slew of partnerships and innovations. The most famous of these is the Uber partnership, where our speaker was keen to acknowledge how Spotify should have worked harder to educated drivers on the technology – particularly how being ‘offered the aux cable’ wasn’t quite what the software designers had hoped for. Yet Uber is part of a roster of Spotify’s partnerships – from Playstation to Chromecast – that they stand to benefit from. Crucially, the value of partnerships extends beyond Spotify’s status as equipped for all your musical needs, and into the value of the data they can access.

In a similar vein, the importance of context in analysing data was stressed. A September peak in the popularity of an Aerosmith song can only be explained by news events at the time. Even when creating their exceptional Discover Weekly playlist, Spotify don’t simply rely on algorithms but also focus on pairing you with other users – anywhere in the world – that are seen to have a similar music taste. It would be remiss to ignore the importance of algorithms and data, but equally valuable is Spotify’s acute grasp of what is relevant to their audience.

It would be impossible to discuss Spotify’s rise without acknowledging how entrenched playlists have become in everyone’s listening experiences – both Barack and Michelle Obama have playlists available on the site. But the real key to Spotify’s analysis of playlists has been in discussing context as pivotal to listening to the playlist. 40% of all playlists are named after when or where they are listened to – think running or, bizarrely, shower.

We were finally talked through Spotify’s recent success in advertising. The key point raised here was how Spotify works from their client’s site, not the other way round. Campaigns with Cadbury’s or Calvin Klein show that Spotify has become part of a brand’s identity, rather than simply another platform for them to run on.

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