Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here’s How Spotify Plans to Invade the U.S., With Facebook’s Help

Spotify should finally get to the U.S. this month. Then what?

We can get some sense by taking a look at the marketing materials the European music service is showing off to potential advertisers. I just got my hands on a Spotify ad pitch, and have included some excerpts below.

The important ideas:
Spotify is playing up its tie-up from Facebook from the very start: It says that at launch, 150 million Facebook users “will start to see music on their feeds. One click and they can have Spotify.” Spotify is also telling advertisers that they’ll be able to use Spotify to build “music apps” on their own sites and on Facebook pages.

Spotify isn’t thinking small. A slide in the promotional deck projects that the service will have 50 million U.S. users in its first year of operation. That number seems preposterously high — for comparison, note that Spotify recently said it has a million subscribers in Europe after a couple years of operation, and implied that it had 7 million active users. And that makes me think the 50 million figure may be the work of an extra-zealous salesman trying to drum up interest.* Still, even if it’s an off-the-reservation boast instead of an official goal, it gives you a sense of the company’s ambitions. (Both Spotify and Facebook declined to comment for this report.)

Spotify expects the press to do much of its work, for free. As the company notes, people like myself have already been giving it plenty of publicity in advance of its launch. And that means more to come when it does launch: “press coverage is with certainty expected to be big.” It’s telling advertisers that during launch it expects to generate 370 million “opportunities to see” — a bit of marketingspeak that means what it sounds like, more or less. By comparison, it says that a recent iPod integration generated 2 billion opportunities.

The Facebook talk is the most interesting part of the marketing materials. Facebook already has a deep integration with Spotify in Europe, and this makes it look as if Spotify expects the same thing in the U.S. But that’s a far cry from other reports that have Spotify doing much more ambitious stuff within the social network.

And that makes sense to me. My understanding is that Spotify wants to use Facebook to drive users to its desktop and mobile clients, not to hang out on a Facebook Web page. And that even if it wanted to build a “Facebook music” service, it would need permission from the big music labels, which would be a whole new round of headaches.

In any case, we should find out soon enough. Perhaps as soon as next week.

*Similarly, the presentation’s claim that “an American PR agency has been on the case for 12 months” is puzzling to me. Because I’ve never, ever heard from an American PR agency representing Spotify. Which doesn’t mean it’s not true! But puzzling, at the very least.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik