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Spotify and Facebook: How Free Can Turn into Big Dollars




One of the most well-thought out new features on Facebook is the sharing of music between you and your friends. Much of this comes from their partner Spotify, whose CEO Daniel Ek spoke at yesterday’s F8 Conference.

He brought up two points that really stuck with me.

First is the concept of the record collection. In the days before the internet, we used to go to our friend’s home and browse through their albums. They were often proudly displayed in the living room (if you were a grown-up) or in an orange crate in the bedroom (if you were a teen). We were defined by our collection. A collection of current artists said you were cool. If you had Johnny Mathis mixed with Johnny Rotten, you were an individualist. The biggest collection of Broadway soundtracks this side of the Great White Way? You’re probably a little flashier than most.

In the digital age, record collections have become playlists, but they still define us and that’s why they’re important to Facebook. If you’re going to tell the story of your life, you need the soundtrack of your life. One guest even suggested you create playlists to fit each of the eras on your timeline – which I think is an amazing idea.

How does this relate to marketing? That’s the second point that stuck with me. The other thing we gained from scanning our friend’s record collection, was the joy of discovery. Of finding a new artist, a new style that you wouldn’t ever have chosen on your own.

This is what Spotify on Facebook is all about – discovery. And in order to make this happen, bands need to give their songs away. Free.

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Ek says that the goal is not to block you from music you don’t own, but to give you more free music, so you like it and in turn buy more music from that same artist or other related content.

It’s a simple idea, but one the entertainment biz has never fully embraced. Artists want to be paid for their work, and they should be, but here’s the thing. The casual fan isn’t going to buy no matter what you do. He’s going to find a way to steal the music and there’s nothing you can do about that. But, a die-hard fan is going to buy the CD anyway, and the next CD and the t-shirt. These are the people you should be catering to and if that means giving away more free music than ever, so be it. More free, should equal more sales in the end.

Take a look at your die-hard customer. The ones that come back to buy over and over again. What could you send them as a reward for their loyalty? Imagine their surprise when they get a free shirt or CD or food sample in the mail. They’ll smile, they’ll tell their friends and they’ll buy from you again. And maybe, some of their friends will come and buy, too.

Don’t fear the free, people. It’s one of the most powerful marketing tools in the box.

Image Credit Iraidka / Shutterstock

  • mitch

    I don’t believe this will work with all genres of music because of the type of culture that surrounds them. As a college student who knows all the ways to gain free music, i’ve met die-hard buyers and visa versa, and I would predict that the idea of free music is like a drug that will become more addicting to even the most die-hard buyers. Making free music even more accessible could easily backfire. This isn’t to say that I hope your marketing theory works, the artists really do deserve maximum profit!