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Spotify debuts first joint subscription – with Headspace


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Spotify has unveiled its latest partnership with a non-music service, following in the footsteps of its deals with Uber, Nike, Starbucks and Tinder.

However, there’s an important difference in its tie-up with mindfulness startup Headspace: rather than a pure marketing deal to attract people to Spotify’s free tier, it’s a joint subscription for the two services.

Starting in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark (with the UK and Netherlands following soon) people will be able to sign up to pay €14.99 a month for access to both Spotify and Headspace.

“It’s the first partnership of this nature where we’ve partnered with another subscription service to enrich a key use case in our service,” Spotify’s VP of distribution Marc Hazan told Music Ally.

That’s a reference to the 22m+ playlists created by Spotify users around themes like focus and relaxation, which may tie nicely into Headspace’s catalogue of (spoken-word) guided meditation.

For now, the two companies’ apps will remain separate: there’ll be no Headspace meditations on Spotify and no Spotify music in Headspace’s app. “Further crossover is something we’ll continue to monitor and explore to see if it makes sense,” said Hazan.

The joint subscription is the most interesting aspect of this deal though. It could and should spark discussion about the potential for other bundles with non-music subscription services. Video-streaming being the obvious candidate.

Picture a future where Apple and Google offer ‘entertainment’ subscriptions including music, TV shows, films and other content, building on what Amazon is already doing with its Prime membership. A subscription partnership with, say, Netflix could be Spotify’s best strategy to compete in that world.

Yes, it’s a bit of a leap from a subscription bundle with a meditation service to a full-blown Netflix partnership. When we floated the idea with Hazan, he dead-batted the question, as you’d expect.

“We will continue to monitor the demands and desires of our users,” he said. “Right now, we’ve been focused on this partnership, based on the observation that there was a real consumer need to fulfil.” Even so, the Headspace deal may lay the groundwork for even-more ambitious partnerships ahead.

For its part, Headspace sees the deal as a way to build scale for its service, which has been used by more than 10 million people so far.

“One of the first reasons the partnership is really attractive to us is that Spotify obviously offers us massive scale, and it is also global. It allows us to deliver Headspace in markets where we do not have a significant presence yet,” CEO Sean Brecker told Music Ally.

“We are also big Spotify fans: it’s the best [music] product out there, the best user experience, and that’s important to us too. If we’re going to partner with someone, it’s critical that it’s a world-class user experience. If there was a partner out there that had scale but was not a great product, I would not see us doing that kind of partnership.”

Stuart Dredge

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