From the Games of Thrones: The End is Coming playlist to the Stranger Things “Upside Down” mode, Spotify has been working with Film/TV studios and networks over the last few years to create branded experiences.
We recently spoke with Andi Frieder, Spotify’s Head of Entertainment Sales, to discover how these partnerships arise and the processes involved in creating engaging projects on a global scale.
Hi Andi, can you give us a brief overview of your role as Head of Entertainment Sales at Spotify?
My role is to act as the voice of the entertainment industry inside of Spotify’s ad-supported business. If our entertainment marketing partners could be in the room as we launch new products, strategies, and solutions, what would they ask for? As an industry lead, I try to represent those challenges and ambitions on their behalf so that we can ultimately build a platform that powers their business and empowers their creators.
How long has Spotify been working with Film/TV studios in this way and how do projects typically come about?
TV and Film marketing has the unique challenge to create urgency in the minds of consumers over a very short window. That model lends itself all too easily to burnout and creative fatigue. So, platforms where there is organically a ton of average time spent, allow them to tell their stories across a larger canvas without frustrating the user. To deliver these more in-depth branded experiences, it always helps if that level of volunteered-engagement already exists. Spotify has always had record breaking time spent sessions and we currently sit at just around 2.5 hours a day across devices, about the same time as a feature film!
In terms of specific projects, we have expanded our partnerships to be more long-term, less one-off. We are now in evergreen dialogues with the studios, networks and OTT providers. At its best, we have an information flywheel where we are hearing about new shows and movies 12+ months before release, seeing clips, reading scripts, etc. From there, we share back features, insights and products at Spotify that have natural synergies with their titles. My team is charged with studying the entire entertainment landscape, trying to maintain and encourage this information flow and innovation flourishing.
How do you work with both the record labels and Film/TV studios in these cases? What/who are the key processes and personnel involved?
Depending on the marketing approach, we can do something that is a simple, smart media play between our sales team and our partners’ media teams, or at the other end of the spectrum, we create programs that require in-depth interdisciplinary collaboration across both organizations. For the latter, on our side we are often linking arms internally with some or all of the following divisions: Shows & Editorial (Cultural Partnerships), Partner Solutions, Artist & Label Marketing, Audience Solutions, Consumer Marketing, & Spotify Studios.
From the “Upside Down” Stranger Things mode to recent projects such as Jordan Peele’s Spotify takeover for Us, and the Game of Thrones: The End is Coming playlist, can you talk us through some of your most interesting partnerships so far?
Over the years we have been lucky enough to work with so many incredible and collaborative partners at the studios and networks. At Spotify, we like to look at creating partnerships out of what we call “next practices” rather than “best practices.” With that said, I think some of our most recent work really took this to heart, using insight from the past to create something that users were not expecting. We like to think of this next practice as disruption rather than interruption.
We’ve seen that it’s ok to surprise our users as long as we deliver real value to their experience. Whether it’s the easter egg “Upside Down” mode and character playlists for Stranger Things, a look inside of the brilliant mind of Jordan Peele through his exploration of the most interesting uses of music in film, or a flurry of brand new playlists from the creators of Game of Thrones celebrating the final season — each approach was a success with users spending volunteered time with the content, driving urgency to head to the theater or tune-in live.
Do you compete with other DSPs for these opportunities or is Spotify the only platform working with film soundtracks in this way?
Our entertainment partners certainly have tons of places to look to market to their target audiences and have their soundtracks heard. And with that said, our success has actually not been traditionally predicated on us requiring that any of the songs be exclusive to us. Rather, we are able to move the needle for them due to what we know about our audience on a global scale. There really aren’t any other global streaming partners that check all these boxes today.