Monday, March 25, 2013

Spotify Says ‘I’ve Got the Music in Me’


STUART ELLIOTT/The New York Times

The field of digital music services is getting as crowded as CBGB was when the Ramones played. So major competitors are spending large sums on advertising campaigns that are meant to generate awareness, consideration and trial.

The newest entrant in the ad club is Spotify, which plans on Monday to start its first campaign aimed at American music lovers. Appropriately, the initial commercial in the campaign is to make its debut on a music reality competition series, “The Voice,” which is returning on Monday night on NBC for its fourth season.

The budget for the first three months of the Spotify effort in the United States, which is being aimed at consumers ages 18 to 40, is estimated at more than $10 million. The campaign, which also includes online ads in addition to commercials, is being created by Droga5 in New York, the first agency of record for Spotify.

The campaign promotes Spotify, which competes against streaming music services like Rdio, Deezer, Mog and Rhapsody, with the theme “For music.”


(What, you were expecting the ads to say, “Against music”?)

The idea is to present Spotify as the champion of music for every moment and mood, whatever the particular genre that gets someone reeling with the feeling or moving and a-grooving. To underline that, the initial commercial, which depicts the fun and energy of a giant concert, has no music whatsoever on the soundtrack.

“It’s been said that the best songs don’t give answers but instead answer questions,” a narrator begins. “So, why? Why can a song change the world?”

“Because music is a force for good, for change, for whatever,” the narrator continues as on screen a concertgoer is body-surfing above an enormous crowd. “Because we were all conceived to a 4/4 beat. Because music cannot be stopped, cannot be contained.”

“Because music makes us scream ‘Koo koo cachoo’ and mean it,” the narrator concludes. “Because music is worth fighting for. Why? Because it’s music.” The commercial ends with the words “Spotify” and “For music” on screen.

The absence of music in the commercial signals that “music is personal; it means something different to everyone,” said Erin Clift, vice president for global marketing and partnerships at the New York office of Spotify.

Globally, Spotify has more than 24 million active users, of whom more than 6 million are paid subscribers. The service began in Sweden and came to this country two years ago.

“Our initial growth was with music enthusiasts,” Ms. Clift said. “We’re looking for that next group ready to experience music in a new way,” she added, which is “a mass, mainstream audience.”

To help achieve that, the campaign depicts Spotify as “the company that gives consumers music for every one of those moments” in life that it makes a difference, Ms. Clift says, seeking to reach potential users on an emotional level.

Subsequent commercials in the campaign also try to make emotional connections through playing up the importance of music while, again, not actually playing any particular song.

In one spot, featuring a man on his daily commute who is wearing headphones, he muses, “I’m back in the place that made you and I us.” The spot declares that Spotify is “for all the songs that remind you of her.”

In another spot, young men and women dancing at a party are having so much fun that they “don’t care that it’s a Tuesday or whose apartment it is.” Spotify, according to the spot, is “for always being able to find a new beat.”

An ad intended to appear online, on display and video networks like AOL, Buzzmedia and Videology, echoes the dance commercial, showing two shirtless young men and a young woman performing awkward dance steps. “Because music doesn’t judge,” the headline reads.

Below, the text reads: “Find all the songs you need to get weird. And all the rest.”

Another online ad is centered on a photograph of a young couple about to engage in what looks as if it will be a wet, sloppy kiss. “Because mixtapes still work,” the headline reads.

Below, the text reads: “Find all the songs you need to seal the deal. And all the rest.”

David Droga, creative chairman at Droga5, said the campaign, like music, is “not judgmental.”

“We’re bringing it back to the essence of what makes music great,” he added, offering a “visceral” take on how “it’s bigger than all of us.”

“It’s more than files and devices and platforms,” Mr. Droga said. “It’s about the music.” He called Spotify “a mission brand” and the campaign’s goal is “to get across their values,” he said.

There are plans for additional ads, according to Mr. Droga, and that “this is the start of a much bigger integrated campaign.”

The media planning and buying part of the campaign is being handled by the Starcom division of the Starcom MediaVest Group, which is owned by the Publicis Groupe.

Spotify has “a dual challenge, building a brand and building a business,” said Lisa Weinstein, president for global digital, data and analytics at the Starcom MediaVest Group in Chicago, who is involved in the campaign because of the digital focus of Spotify’s business.

That means Spotify needs to be concerned about consumers at the top of the marketing funnel, she added, referring to the brand image aspects of the campaign, as well as those “lower down the funnel” who are considering becoming paying subscribers.

Spotify has enjoyed “a high growth rate,” Ms. Weinstein said, “but there is still a tremendous opportunity” to grow further by taking advantage of earned media — social platforms like Twitter — and owned media like Spotify.com as well as the paid media in which the campaign will appear.

Spotify is the most recent digital or e-commerce marketer to start advertising in traditional media to reach mainstream consumers. Others include Fab.com, Rdio, Viggle and Warby Parker.

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