After Slight Pause, Spotify Set to Charge Forward on Video

/ Jan 22, 2016

Spotify_shows_VideoInk_300x250

In 2015, it was on-trend for music streaming services to announce plans to move into video. Early in the year, premium streaming music service Spotify announced it would focus on video. It was followed by recently-launched competitor Tidal, and, not long after, rumors surfaced that Pandora would join them. YouTube also announced that it would release a music and entertainment hybrid subscription service, YouTube Red, which debuted in the Fall of 2015.

Want to know more about the trend? READ: “On Trend: Music Streaming Services Tackle Video – Here’s Why.

Since the Summer of 2015, Spotify has been testing video content in a beta phase, available to only iOS users, while it adjusts as needed for a bigger push in video to take shape by May 2016, when the company is said to be rolling out video to a wider audience.

But what exactly does a shift from music streaming to video look like for the mega-music-streaming service?

Video Is Important, But Audio Is Still the Core… For Now

For Spotify, the shift to video isn’t a deviation from their core business — audio. As Spotify has looked towards adding a slate of content, audio has served as a central peg for the videorelated projects the streaming platform has been quietly testing in beta over the last few months.

“What we have learned about our users is that they want to be informed, they want to be enlightened, they want to be entertained, in whatever format suits their context,” said Shiva Rajaraman, Spotify’s product lead.

shows-slide3@2xSo, to kick off its video offering, Spotify first took aim at curating content that can be consumed in audio-only format or accompanied by video. Spotify started to work with the usual suspects in the video space — Fullscreen, Maker Studios, Collab, Tastemade, Vice, among others calling for content that could fit with the more popular curated “Mood” playlists like Urban, Coffeehouse or Pop, but looked more like video podcasts than episodic web series, all housed under a “Spotify Shows” section. 

“We love this idea of switching between background and foreground,” Rajaraman told VideoInk. For example, a series such as “Epic Rap Battles,” which Rajaraman cites as a format that’s already working on Spotify, can stand alone as a track or be enjoyed by users who want to watch the video episodes. “Epic Rap Battles Battles” has amassed 2 billion video views and 13 million subscribers on YouTube.

Since testing the video product, Spotify has learned that their original assumption that video is a natural fit on the platform is proving to be true.  

“In our case, when we start thinking about entertainment, pictures can be fun, they can even be more engaging,” Rajaraman  said.So we have been testing video largely because we think that it is an underlying consumer need. And the easier it is to deliver video, especially with increased bandwidth, and increased access we have to the internet, the more we have to play on different formats.”

BillyJoelSpotifyIntuitively, it might seem that Spotify would benefit by first moving into the music video business, perhaps acquiring a company like Vevo (should it ever be able to separate from its YouTube ball and chain), which has a wealth of licensed music video IP from major artists such as Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. And, in fact, the company has dabbled with rolling out music videos to accompany music (see left). While Spotify is covering all bases, music videos are not as central to Spotify’s video strategy as it might need to be to start converting audio-first behavior to more audio-visual.

A Slight Hurdle – Changing User Behavior and Fitting Original Video Into Product

According to sources close to the situation, Spotify hit the pause button at the end of  2015. With big dollars being thrown at content licensing and original projects by major players such as Verizon’s Go90, Samsung’s now-defunct Milk Video, Vessel and YouTube Red, among others, Spotify can’t just financially tiptoe into the video space. We have yet to see if Spotify is prepared to spend the $1 billion in content acquisition and marketing like recent entrant to the video space, Go90.

Secondly, those who are part of the beta claim that Spotify users haven’t been as receptive to video consumption as Spotify initially intended.  However, despite these concerns, the company will press forward with video, targeting May 2016 for its wider roll-out.

“Original programming is a logical area for new entrants in the streaming space to invest in to try and differentiate from their competitors and augment their offerings,” according to Jonathan Carson, the former Chief Revenue Officer at Vevo. “The reality though is that original programming is a long-term play that needs sustained investment and a growing audience to see any meaningful ROI.”

With over 20 million subscribers, Spotify is in a position to take videoviewing market share organically should the company be able to strike the right balance between podcast-like content and narrative-driven formats that match well with streaming music.

Leading the charge is Global Head of Original Content Matt Baxter, who joined Spotify late last summer to oversee the licensing of content and commissioning of original content. Some of the projects already in progress include Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls’ ”Dance Move of the Day”, an MTV Unplugged style format called “Spotify Sessions” and “Turntable”, a food and music show. New projects said to come this Spring will continue to focus on comedy and news, according to Rajaraman.

How Spotify Can Win the Video Game – Discovery and “Spotify Now”

It’s a long-standing issue – and certainly one covered extensively by VideoInk – discovery. With the growing volume of content and platform options available to users, surfacing content is a significant hurdle for video programmers as they look to rise above the tide. Spotify has put significant product development behind its recommendations and discovery algorithm, posing what could become the unique selling proposition to content creators who ache for their content to find real eyeballs.

“[Spotify has] a wonderful set of listening data right now. Since Spotify works from the background and is a part of your day, you might use it for several hours everyday, so we understand your tastes,” Rajaraman said.

shows-slide1@2xSpotify will replicate the two-fold approach it’s taken to music, combining a team of editorial curators with algorithmic recommendations based on user behavior so that the viewer has a window of uninterrupted playback and doesn’t “have to go hunting and gathering,” as Rajaraman put it. The content will live under their banner of “Spotify Now”

Users engaging most with video will see more video, while those who don’t, won’t. If Spotify can translate its powerful discovery engine for music into video the company can set itself apart from the other music and video streaming hybrid platforms in the market right now. And Rajaraman tells VideoInk that they are prepared to make big plays this year as they commit to video, with product and user experience at the forefront.

As the year unfolds, Spotify and YouTube Red could end up in a head-to-head competition to keep the user engaged with multiple media offerings for every occasion, and both have similar baseline scale to help them own the user. 

Afterall, according to Carson, “Your odds of success are significantly improved when you start from a baseline of using it as a tool for new growth on top of a healthy core business versus more of a standalone catalyst to grow your audience.”

Tags: , , ,


BrandedTVLogo_VideoInk_300x250

In-House Content Studios: Same Name, Different Capabilities

 
Snapchat Article Header

Snapchat Is Getting 10 Billion Video Views A Day. Now What?

 
PrankvsPrank-Jesse-Whalen-Jeana-Smith-Split

PrankVsPrank’s Jesse Wellens, Jeana Smith Hit Pause On...

 
Get The Look  Metallic Chic Eye Makeup by Maybelline branded content

Do This Yourself: Why Branded DIY Videos Are Still a Big Opportunity

 
Industry Tickets Selling Fast!
Click above to lock in your registration for VidCon 2015!
 
Adam Wescott Select Management Group Select Next

Building Better Opportunities for Digital Influencers with...

 
Screening Room

Weekly Streaming Video Release Schedule

 
oculus faux leak

Let’s get Real about VR — the Content & Distribution...

 
Supergravity-Evan-Weiss-Red-Sun-Entertainment

Supergravity Pictures, Evan Weiss Form Talent Management Brand...

 
All-Def-Digital-NBC-SeeSo-Content-Deal

All Def Digital Teams With SeeSo For Original Content Deal

 
VidCon-2016-Beauty-Lifestyle-Content-Salon

Kandee Johnson, MyLifeAsEva To Talk Fashion, Beauty In...

 
NewFronts Image 2015

Newfronts 2016 Programming Cheat Sheet

 
PetCollective

A Year Later… How The Pet Collective Has Blown Up With...

 
indmusic

Live Nation Acquires INDMUSIC

 
Google Daydream VR

Google Bringing VR Platform Daydream to New Android Operating System

 
Cinedigm Logo

Cinedigm Buying StoryBox.tv Content for Dove Channel OTT Service

 
Instant Time INc.

Will Time Inc.’s Branded ‘New Famous’ Platform...

 
NBA Playmakers

Are the NBA and BroadbandTV Pulling a Tom Sawyer with New...

 
cutting the cord

Tearing Down the Wall – Why Television May Just Kill the...

 
PepsiCo Creative Lounge Studio

PepsiCo Pops Open Creators League Studio Facility with AOL and...

 
TMBI_VideoInk_300x250

Trusted Media Brands Delivers Strong First Newfront

 
digital-content-newfronts

Strengths and Weaknesses at the NewFronts

 
Playboy_Cover_VideoInk_300x250

Playboy May Just Out-Vice Vice – Debuts 14 Original Series...

 
Mashable makes a new hire

Mashable Expands on Video Strategy at NewFronts

 
Todd Barrish Endemol Shine Beyond USA

Endemol Shine Beyond USA Hires Maker Studios exec Todd Barrish

 
YouTube NFL

YouTube Adding 96 Full-Length NFL Games

 
Activision_Blizzard_Logo

Activision Blizzard Logging On to Facebook

 
Telemundo NewFront 2016

Telemundo Touts Mashable, Vox, Tastemade and BuzzFeed...

 
AwesomenessTV NewFront 2016 Group Shot

AwesomenessTV Unveils Gaming Awards Show, Major League Baseball...

 
Whistle Sports Logo

Whistle Sports Unveils Six New Series at NewFronts

 
Starwars

Lucas Film and DCPI Set to Release “The Star Wars...

 
Stephanie Villa & Jenn Im Kin Community

Kin Community Signs Best Friend Vloggers Jenn Im and Stephanie Villa

 
Top Gear Team Amazon Prime

Former ‘Top Gear’ Hosts Get a Name for Amazon Show

 
Mobile Video

Newsflash!: IAB Says Original Digital Video Viewers Prefer...

 
Pilgrim Media Group ESL

Pilgrim Media Group Teams with ESL to Play Esports

 
Dwaybe Johnson Studio71 Presentation

Studio71 Announces Dwayne Johnson YouTube Channel, Three New Series

 
Complex's pseudo NewFront

Complex’s Un-Newfront Presents a “Complex...

 
Amazon Video Direct

Is Amazon Video Direct a YouTube Competitor?

 
Izo_VideoInk_300x250

DanceOn Forms “izo” And Steps Into Cluttered Music...

 
Newsy

Newsy Unveils First Original Series at First-Ever NewFront

 
Beef_AbominablePictures_VideoInk_300x250

Fullscreen Grabs Titles from Wildseed Studios, Abominable Pictures