“From a music brand perspective, we sit on the cusp of culture because everyday there is a new album or a new artist you can care about,” said Scott Mardsen, global head of media, Spotify, in a session at the 2018 PromaxBDA conference with Bob Gruters, US group director, entertainment, technology and connectivity, Facebook. The conversation focused on how Spotify is embracing custom video to strengthen its global brand.

Launched in 2008, Spotify is a digital music service, now with more than 157 million active monthly users and 71 million paid subscribers that provides access to millions of songs. In April 2018 the company went public via a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

“When I came to Spotify, I had one person, we did not have a performance strategy, and we were a start-up,” said Mardsen. “There was no money for marketing. And now, a platform like Facebook helps us scale, it helps us drive efficiencies, and it is immeasurable for new registrations. Technologically, there are so many more tools at our disposal.”

According to a March forecast, Spotify expects to reach approximately 200 million users by the end of the year, and as many as 96 million subscribers. The projected revenue is predicted to increase by 30 percent to a reported $6.6 billion by year’s end.

“Music is about expression; it is about art; it is about politics, your voice and your position,” said Mardsen. “As more people engage with the brand, it’s important to us, as an audio brand, to build our video presence. We know that content is king, and the challenge for our marketing is to engage deeper, and better, and smarter.”

“We understand we are not going to convert somebody on the first pass from a pure music experience,” he added. “And we understand that consumers use multiple platforms, which we want to capitalize on. Our goal is to get people to understand who we are and where our future sits. And we have updated our free service to enhance the experience.”

New features include the ability for users to choose which songs they want to listen to off of 15 selected playlists, the ability to like or hide certain artists, faster access to playlists, and the ease of a more personalized experience.

”Music needs the opportunity to be free,” said Mardsen. “The tradeoff is there are ads on part of the free service and the premium service is a subscription. But we rebranded it, we revamped it and we redesigned it. While we certainly don’t lack brand awareness, we do need to better market that our service is free. We can’t do that with a few paragraphs and we can’t do that with imagery. So, we have to tell a story through video; something that will resonate our message.”

Spotify is expected to focus on user subscription growth, with making the free experience crucial to attracting new people to the service.

”Every marketer wants to know how beneficial that broad based campaign is,” he said. “And we want to know what the direct balance is. We are running in 65 markets, and we need to decipher if we should be investing heavily in some markets and not so much in others. Media, at present, is evolving and we want to develop with it and enhance the experience of our users.”

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