James Blake’s new album had a special midnight release on 5th May, and following its collaboration on the Foo Fighters’ release last year, it’s great to see Spotify getting involved here too.

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Blake’s album, The Colour In Anything, was preceded by three track releases in the four-hour run up to midnight, available on Spotify and other digital services. Spotify used its user data to email Blake’s top listeners to let them know it was coming. “You’re one of James Blake’s biggest fans on Spotify, so we’re letting you in on a secret,” it said. “Tonight at midnight, James is releasing a surprise new album, The Colour In Anything. And you can play three tracks from it right now…”

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This is one of the first times we’ve seen Spotify compile email lists in order to drive listening; its previous movements have been based around things like merchandise competitions and ticket sales, targeting top listeners as potential super-fans. Spotify’s campaign with the Foo Fighters involved the band’s top listeners being invited to enter a competition to win tickets to their Milton Keynes show in the UK.

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There’s still some concern about using DSP data to contact users directly – as it risks annoying fans or blurring the line between opening communication channels and respecting their privacy; but Spotify has the necessary tools to identify the groups of people that matter most to artists. Labels are aware that streaming services have the data to fill the gap between artist and fan and so are slowly starting to see a little more access to it. Foo Fighters and James Blake are examples of how campaigns can benefit from all this. Hopefully we’ll see some more adventurous use of that data in the future.

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