Ask any auxiliary cable hogger or music aficionado and they’ll tell you that curating a playlist on a music streaming platform is somewhat of an art. So much so that the act has given way to the music blogger 2.0, namely the Spotify influencer.
In curating playlists, reviewing emerging artists’ albums and helping users discover new tunes, these music influencers have attracted sizable followings on Spotify and TikTok. For brands, this upcoming class of creators means a fresh influencer marketing opportunity on Spotify.
Compared to platforms where most influencer marketing budgets are allocated, like Instagram and TikTok, the Swedish streaming company seems an unlikely choice. But in recent years, its investment in tools and services tailored to audio creators has crystalized its ongoing commitment to them, including its latest Featured Curators pilot (more on that in a bit).
Before getting into why Spotify influencer marketing is ripe for some brands’ taking, it’s important to acknowledge the platform’s overall growth and listener behavior—which are also key factors to consider before deciding if Spotify is right for your influencer marketing strategy.
At the end of 2021, ads represented 15 percent of Spotify’s revenue, and its active user base reached 406 million while paying subscribers reached 180 million. Here’s a breakdown of its user demographics by location, age and gender.
Users by region in 2021:
- Europe: 121 million
- North America: 85 million
- Latin America: 78 million
- Rest of the world: 71 million
Subscribers by region in 2021:
- Europe: 66 million
- North America: 48 million
- Latin America: 33 million
- Rest of the world: 18 million
- 18-24 (26 percent)
- 25-34 (29 percent)
- 35-44 (16 percent)
- 45-54 (11 percent)
- 55+ (19 percent)
- Female (56 percent)
- Male (44 percent)
For brands looking to spend influencer dollars here, it’s also important to note Spotify’s Sonic Science research found people are more engaged and attentive when listening on Spotify compared to other forms of media—both to the music and podcasts they’re streaming, and the ads they hear.
This week, in a first for the platform, Spotify announced a new Featured Creators pilot that will spotlight popular playlists curated by select Spotify users and influencers. For a limited time, the platform will promote these playlists alongside official Spotify playlists. According to Spotify, “the curators we selected are music lovers with established followings and popular playlists on Spotify, or they’re users telling unique stories through playlists and creating authentic connections with other users.”
The rollout of the limited-time pilot coincides with the steady rise of this next iteration of music bloggers. Mashable recently spoke with three Spotify influencers who are in the process of or currently monetizing their influence in the music space by cross-promoting their playlists on TikTok.
Carly, the 21-year-old Indianapolis student behind @carlybogie on Spotify, has more than 65,000 followers. She says she’s constantly listening to music and curating playlists while studying in part to make indie music more accessible.
Another Spotify influencer, @adrianjoeym, boasts more than 30,000 followers. The 20-year-old, Albuquerque-based creator’s most popular playlist, “we on auxx” has over 25,000 likes.
The third music influencer Mashable spoke to, @maskedmortalmusic, charges artists $15 to listen to their song and consider supporting it on social and $30 for personalized feedback about the track. In his early twenties and from Michigan, the influencer has over 41,000 followers on Spotify with his most popular playlist “Pov I’m gonna fistfight a demon” liked by 74,000 users.
If you plan to incorporate Spotify influencers into your marketing mix, consider the platform’s two P’s: podcasts and playlists.
At the end of Q4, Spotify reported 3.6 million podcasts (up from 3.2 million at the end of Q3) and saw a double-digit increase in the number of monthly active users (MAUs) that engaged with podcast content relative to Q3.
Among MAUs that engaged with podcasts in Q4, consumption trends stayed strong (up 20 percent year-over-year on a per-user basis) and podcast share of overall consumption hours on the platform reached another all-time high. Spotify also expanded its paid podcast subscriptions to creators and listeners in 33 additional markets and enabled podcasts for users in Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
In 2021, more than 1 million new podcasts were added to Spotify, representing about one-third of the platform’s overall podcast catalog (3.2 million podcasts). From Video Podcasts to Q&As and Polls, Spotify has launched various new features to make podcasts more interactive.
More recently, it introduced a new ad solution called CTA cards: visual, clickable companions to podcast ads designed to help listeners remember and take action on ads they hear.
As Spotify notes, podcasters are more tuned-in and because listeners log into their accounts beforehand, advertisers gain in-depth insights into exactly who hears their content, which ultimately enables marketers to control targeting with precision.
Brands can connect with their target customers more deeply by utilizing influencers for two different types of playlists on Spotify: user-generated playlists or sponsored playlists.
User-generated playlists, the focus of Spotify’s new ‘Featured Curators’ test, abound on the app and reportedly account for one-third of all listening time on the platform. Asking influencers to put together a branded, curated playlist is one way to organically engage your audience. Take a page from Gymshark, which enlists fitness creators to make branded playlists to match certain workouts. Both the brand and the curators promote the playlist across their social channels, which helps more listeners discover them.
At the moment, marketers can leverage influencers across three sponsored, personalized playlists targeting Spotify Free users via display, audio and video ads. The first playlist, Discover Weekly, is updated every Monday based on users’ personal listening habits. In the five years since its launch, listeners have streamed over 2.3 billion hours between July 2015 and June 25, 2020.
On Repeat, the second sponsored playlist debuted in 2019 as a personalized mix filled with the tracks each user has streamed the most over the past 30 days. Since its launch, Spotify fans around the world have spent over 750 million hours streaming On Repeat. It’s also reached 12 billion streams globally. As for listeners, 18-24 year-olds are the top audience streaming On Repeat most frequently, followed by 25-29 year-olds. Fans in the US also come in at the top spot, followed by the UK, Mexico, Germany and Brazil, according to Spotify.
The third and final playlist brands can sponsor is Release Radar. This personalized playlist delivers listeners a weekly roundup of new music from the artists they love at the end of the week. Spotify considers it “the ideal setting for advertisers to introduce new products, services, and IP.”
Since Release Radar’s launch in 2016, Spotify users worldwide have streamed from the playlist more than 16 billion times. And Release Radar has become a top-three personalized playlist for listeners globally, with 18- to 29-year-olds representing more than 50 percent of the playlist’s audience. Spotify says that because it updates every week with music from the last six days and listeners are treated to new songs, it gives advertisers a chance to offer fresh perspectives, services and products.