Analysis

Spotify ‘Found Them First’ shows potential for superfan marketing


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Spotify has launched a new web-app called Found Them First which seems like a bit of fun for music fans: identifying the bands who are now popular that they got into early.

However, it’s also a demonstration of the streaming service’s big-data mining capabilities, which could be a key part of its pitch to become a more important part of labels’ marketing campaigns.

The Found Them First site asks people for their Spotify logins, then crunches their data to find out which “breakout” artists they were early listeners to.

Spotify says it’s defining breakout artists as those who have more than 20m total streams, and a “growth rate” (in streams, presumably) of 2,000% between January 2013 and June 2015. Meanwhile, getting in “early” means being among the first 1% to 15% of listeners to those artists on the service.

Big news for music snobs who want proof they cottoned on to an emerging act before the crowds. For example, the site tells me I was among the first 3% of listeners to Major Lazer and Charli XCX; the first 2% to Royal Blood and Iggy Azalea; and the first 1% to Chvrches, AlunaGeorge and Clean Bandit.

But this isn’t just about bragging (even if it IS mainly about bragging).

Spotify has enlisted a few artists – James Bay, Rixton, Years & Years, Vance Joy and Misterwives – to record “appreciation videos” that’ll be shown to fans who visit the site and turn out to be among the first 15% of their listeners.

The message to labels: Spotify (and by extension, any streaming service that’s on top of its data archives) can identify not just the people listening most to an artist, but the people who listened to them earliest – not just superfans, but influencers.

As the streaming service continues to develop its features as a marketing platform – see the recent Foo Fighters email campaign targeting “top listeners” for evidence of that – the ability to pinpoint different kinds of fan groups could be valuable for Spotify and its partners.

That said, the company will have to tread carefully to ensure that its keenest users, who listen most and earliest to new bands, don’t find themselves feeling spammed by a succession of offers, contests and other marketing messages. Which, in fairness, is not what is happening.

A label that’s just signed ‘the new Royal Blood’ or ‘the new Chvrches’ might love the chance to get their music in front of the earliest streamers of those original artists, but doing it without annoying those fans will need to be handled carefully.

Stuart Dredge

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