Spotify localisation: a case study
Spotify has been one of the most trending music streaming applications during recent times. There are more than 50 million paid subscribers and this count is picking up at a swift rate leaving behind heavy hitters in the industry such as Apple Music and Google Play. Currently present in 79 markets, Spotify has a library of over 50 million songs with 40,000 new songs being added globally every day. The curiosity around its foray in a country added to its popularity among millennials.
A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT SPOTIFY
Daniel EK and Martin Lorentzon, two Swedish entrepreneurs, were the creators of Spotify who initially aimed to build a platform where music could be made easily available by avoiding any pirated content circulation as Napster did. Throughout the years, Spotify had to compete with the increasing rise of Apple and SoundCloud yet it still managed to stay within the league of the music industry. But how was Spotify able to manage it? Localisation is the answer.
LOCALISATION STRATEGY OF SPOTIFY
- One of the very first strategies Spotify used was ‘social media localisation’ by providing a prototype version of the app in the bloggers market. At first, when positive responses were gained from Swedish bloggers then the niche within this blogger market was increased to make it much more global and inclusive. Later, when the app’s finalised version was launched there were already enough supporters that Spotify had successfully bagged through the influence and word of these bloggers.
- After this stage, Spotify was able to grow its team and started to restrict the user invites that one could give to their friends. This pushed the propaganda of ‘signing up’ within the Spotify service and increased the exclusivity principle that was much needed in the music industry at the time Spotify entered the bigger markets for licensing deals. Since the global industry music revenue had fallen massively at the time, it made the big four (EMI, Sony, Warner Music and Universal) desperate to land a deal with a gradual growing app.
- When Spotify integrated with Facebook investors, it was able to tackle two hurdles; one was to halt the worrying for long-term survival and another was the reduction in friction during the sign-up process of the app. The latter was crucial because it not only made signing up effortless but it provided Spotify with an easy universal sign-up process that broke any country, language or religion barrier. Within four days, Spotify had scored one million new users and was the only music company to have such an easy and universal sign up process.
4. Spotify became incredibly popular because it launched mobile streaming where users were able to use algorithmically curated playlists and personalized recommendations. This localisation was incredibly diverse in nature as every user was presented with content they constantly engaged in and also provided recommendations similar to their daily taste (which again gave global access to several users). A curated playlist ‘discover weekly’ alone gained forty million users attention within the same week it was launched. After the immense engaging feedback that Spotify received, it curated many other curated algorithmic playlists (which has become a trademark feature of the app till date) which no other music app has ever done.
5. Localisation strategies were taken a step further as Spotify started to measure the waveform of one’s favourite soundtracks to suggest personalised content. Playlists highlighting what a particular city/region within a country was listening to spiked the interest of many users and enhanced the feelings of inclusivity within the Spotify family for many.
The benefit for Spotify comes from local users finding familiar music on the platform, global users finding new music they would have never come across or tried without Spotify, and artists flocking to Spotify to reach a wider audience. Spotify also offers everchanging playlists with most popular music globally in each country.
Another successful strategy adopted by the establishment is Hyper-localised advertisements. These Hyper-localised ad campaigns simultaneously appealed to targeted audiences while globalising the concept of digital streaming. These ads revealed that Spotify had unique cultural knowledge in each targeted country. Relatable daily contents like podcasts and several playlists were displayed to users which resulted in the success of this campaign which is the main reason why these hyper localised ads still persist.
Also, Spotify has started to host live gigs sessions for famous genres such as hip hop, Latin and urban music at various locations within the US and UK.
There are 3 major inferences that can be drawn from Spotify’s localisation strategy.
- Know your market: Spotify had more than just a language barrier to overcome. Other major issues include piracy and illegal downloads. But the company saw an opportunity to tackle this. For companies considering global expansion today, can take learn from Spotify’s confidence and look at how your business can do something better than what is currently available.
- It’s all in the details: Spotify didn’t just look at individual countries when it came to localisation; it got down to demographics, too. For example, they noticed a particularly high number of young people in the region, then tailored the platform’s communication and content in accordance with them.
- Work with experts: With the help of local experts, including language translation providers, you can break into a new market and connect directly with a huge new audience — anywhere in the world.
Spotify sets itself apart in the form of strategies it adapted for its growth. There was a company in the same industry as Spotify called Deezer. They both were launched at almost the same time. Deezer focused on getting into as many countries as possible but it avoided the United States because the US had a huge entry cost. This was a gamble which Deezer was not willing to take and instead, Deezer aimed to be global without the US as a whole. On the contrary, Spotify followed the route of gradual growth by entering the US and paying the heavy entry fees. The method indeed paid off and followed the same venture in several other locations, granting long term success of the company. They also put a great deal of investment in incorporating localisation into their market strategies to suit a country’s music taste upon expanding there. The artists, playlists, and ads are a testament to Spotify’s preparation in this respect.
Spotify remained in constant touch with the trends of its users and encouraged their presence by connecting with influential artists, bloggers and record labels to establish their unique presence. Now with new features such as song lyrics being available to the user while streaming songs, coloured backgrounds and much more, Spotify is constantly growing and improving its performance as a whole.
By Sneha Rastogi
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