Spotify unveils first US TV ads as video rumours spread


spotify-logoSomething we’ve been wondering a lot lately around the Music Ally watercooler: if streaming music services are so keen to crack the mainstream, why aren’t they advertising on TV?

Something we haven’t wondered at all lately: as it renegotiates its licensing deals with major labels in 2013, wouldn’t now be the perfect time to also jump into a completely separate industry – TV – with its own potent brew of fear, greed and digital disruption?

In a busy day yesterday, Spotify found itself at the centre of both these ideas.

The TV ads are kosher, at least. Spotify debuted its first TV ad in the US during NBC talent show The Voice, while publishing another two on YouTube.

‘For Music’, ‘Her Song’ and ‘Getting Weird’ all focus on the way music makes people feel, albeit with actual music replaced by ambient wibbles and portentous voiceovers (“We were all conceived to a 4-4 beat” being our favourite, if possibly historically inaccurate, one-liner).

Still, Spotify is on TV, which certainly takes the company’s US marketing efforts up a notch.

But for now, the prospect of Spotify actually getting into the streaming TV business seems more remote, despite Business Insider’s double-sourced claim yesterday that “Spotify intends to become an on-demand music and video service – one that would invest in original content and compete heads-on with Netflix”.

Cue CNET with a rebuttal (of sorts) from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek: “I won’t rule it out because we’re a company that looks at what we’re doing incredibly long term. But right now, we’re all focused on music.”

Diplomatic. There are plenty of reasons why jumping into streaming TV in the near future might look suicidal for a company like Spotify, which has yet to prove it can turn a profit from streaming music.

That said, there are some reasons why it looks sensible for Ek to refuse to rule out a longer-term diversification beyond music. A unified monthly subscription for music and video is an idea whose time may yet come – with potential for recommendations spanning both – but at present it’s the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Sony who look better placed to provide it.

Meanwhile, Netflix is only truly popular in its home market of the US, meaning there are opportunities elsewhere in the world.

But the licensing costs to acquire a decent catalogue of TV shows, let alone commission original content (Netflix’s recent 13-episode House of Cards series was estimated to cost $3.8m per episode, as a rough guide) suggest that Spotify is right to be training all its short-term sights on securing music deals that will sustain the business to the point where it can contemplate such expenditure.

Written by: Stuart Dredge