Spotify has appointed a new chief content officer, Dawn Ostroff, who was previously president of entertainment for media firm Condé Nast. She’ll be based in the company’s New York office reporting directly to CEO Daniel Ek, and is a replacement for former CCO Stefan Blom, who left the company in January this year. Spotify said Ostroff will “lead all aspects of Spotify’s content partnerships across music, audio and video” when she starts work in August.
Besides becoming the second woman to be a C-level executive at Spotify (alongside chief human resources officer Katarina Berg) – an important point for a company that’s been working on a number of diversity initiatives – Ostroff’s achievements and reputation are key at a time when Spotify continues to experiment with its video strategy, as well as its expansion into other forms of audio.
At Condé Nast, her role was helping a traditional magazine publisher navigate new worlds of television and film, but also digital video. Meanwhile, her past development of shows including Gossip Girl and America’s Next Top Model is relevant too, especially at a time when Apple is quietly investing in a range of TV-style projects. In a context of Spotify evolving into a fully-fledged digital media service, this is a genuinely-bold hire.
Among Ostroff’s tasks, too, may be helping to plot Spotify’s next moves around brands and advertising – or at least the content that will attract brands and ads. Analysts with Barclays suggested yesterday that there is a lot more potential here. “We believe Spotify is under-monetising its ad business in order to improve the customer experience and gain market share,” they claimed, before predicting that this may change. “The revenue calculation of the music advertising business is nearly identical to online advertising names like Facebook and Google.”
That’s quite a claim, but one that Spotify, YouTube, Pandora and other services (including those in emerging markets) with ad-supported tiers will be keen to prove right over the coming years. One of Ostroff’s recent interviews suggested that she is more than willing to tackle the challenge of figuring out what content can help.
“They’re literally insatiable. They’re voracious consumers of digital video and the more we see coming out the more surprising it is for everybody. Millennials and Gen Z don’t know the difference between short or long. All they care about is being entertained, engaged, informed and getting whatever they need right away,” she told AdAge in December 2017. And it will be fun to see whether this ambition translates to Spotify: “I would love to be able to do something that was probably as noisy and as relevant as Gossip Girl was at that time. What that looks like now, I have a couple of ideas, but it’s not out there for sure…”