Pandora and Spotify CMOs: Music Is Everything When It Comes to Millennials

ClickZ at Advertising WeekMusic is becoming a powerful medium for brands that are looking to engage with millennials, according to Seth Farbman, chief marketing officer (CMO) of Spotify and Simon Fleming-Wood, CMO of Pandora.

Farbman thinks that it’s critical for brands across industry verticals to reach millennials with music. He started leveraging music marketing when he served as the global CMO of Gap, where he led his team to employ music as a way of developing the brand, creating emotion and tapping into customer sense of individuality.

“For all of us, especially for millennials, music is one of those things like fashion that can be used to identify who you are. It gives you a voice and a point of view. Also, it allows you to fit in,” Farbman said during his presentation at Advertising Week on Monday evening.

Fleming-Wood from Pandora holds the same view. For starters, the reach of music can be enormous – Pandora has around 85 million unique monthly listeners in the U.S. According to Fleming-Wood, music is the number one discussed topic among college students. At an average of nearly four hours a day, millennials spend almost as much time listening to music as they do watching TV. Psychologically speaking, music can also directly influence purchasing decisions within a store.

“Millennials’ attention is fragmented, which is why music is important for brands. There are very few ways to capture the attention of the millennial audience as effectively as music can, especially in this connected world,” Fleming-Wood noted.

Music data can play a pivotal role in digital marketing, according to the two CMOs. For example, Pandora can see 360 degrees of listeners in its first-party data, and as a result has developed muscles around this music data to grow engagement of its audience. This engagement manifests in the form of personal emails, notifications, and programmatic buying.

Meanwhile, Spotify believes that the use of music is not just an activity by itself. Rather, it applies to a composite of a user’s lifestyle.

“It applies to studying, working out, and running. You can get a complete picture of a listener’s lifestyle. Now we are gathering so much data so rapidly, that we constantly reimagine what even can be done with it,” Farbman noted.

However, gleaning data insights is not enough. Farbman continued to say that marketers must add a layer of authenticity and personalization in order to truly unleash the power of music.

“There’s a level of authenticity. Today, marketers cannot lie. You cannot just put a message out there and hope for the best. Your product or your service is the most important thing. If that does not deliver, you should not even bother [being in] marketing,” he said.

“The second point is you have to create an agreement with your audience. There’s unlimited information in music data: when you use music, how you use music, how you share your music, what else you like in your life, and so on. With such connection, we know more about people than ever before. But, you have to use that for good. Personalization is critical, but in a sense, you need to respect that power,” he added.

Pandora has similar value. In terms of personalization, Fleming-Wood explained that the music streaming service plays the best songs possible based on how it learns listeners’ preferences, moods, and other signals. Also, it gives loyal users exclusive access to live events or music programs. Yet, personalization cannot be separated from authenticity.

“For the millennial generation, you have to earn their engagement by getting to know them authentically and giving them what they want,” he said.

Fleming-Wood and Farbman think that Pandora and Spotify are complementary when it comes to empowering music marketing. The two companies embrace different business models in the hyper-competitive music streaming landscape. Pandora aims to disrupt the traditional radio service by enabling listeners on the go to pick a “station” of programming to listen to. Spotify reinvents different music formats through on-demand services. However, their missions are the same: to redefine the way people listen to music. In that sense, they need to work together to push the music industry forward.

“When you are pioneering the music industry, you have the responsibility to educate people on the change. So, in many ways Pandora and Spotify can collaborate to get that message out clearly,” said Farbman.

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