Spotify shares report connecting listening and consumer habits

Spotify for Brands has two announcements for how to potentially market through music, data, and personalized habits. First, the company has shared a widget called Spotify.Me, a tool for quantifying listening preferences into data points that would be most useful to marketers. The second announcement is a related report called Understanding People Through Music. This analysis of 140 million people’s music habits draws some connections between the audio and likely spending habits.

Spotify.Me is par for the course when it comes to the streaming company’s public-facing analytics. It offers intriguing, if unintentionally hilarious, depictions of recent listening. The widget ends with a marketing call-to-action, so despite the presentation, this seems like less of a fun toy for the casual listener and more of a resource for marketers. In parsing my own analysis, however, the results reflect both the power that Spotify’s big data algorithms can wield and the potential flaws to such a system.

For instance, 60% of my listening was classified as energetic. But two of the sample tracks it chose to highlight this trait stemmed from when my niece visited and played DJ with my account. I was also dubbed an eclectic listener, with genre choices all over the place. And that’s accurate, but it’s partially accurate because Spotify isn’t my sole listening platform. I have some meticulously crafted playlists and I enjoy the recommendation engines, but I also maintain a large music collection in iTunes and on vinyl. So my data is just a partial snapshot of my listening, and thus probably not the best reflection of the marketing focus groups I would best represent.

My results make the accompanying report all the more fascinating. Spotify has presented a breakdown of how different listening traits would likely translate to consumer behaviors. Eclectics like me are pegged as more likely to stream TV and movies on a regular basis (and yes, I do that a lot). Loyalists who stick with one genre are projected as more likely to purchase something as a direct result of an advertisement (and no, I don’t do that often).

But it’s unclear how Spotify is drawing its conclusions in the report. It’s hard to see why people who prefer playlists made by others are more likely to put in long sessions at the gym, or why people who stick to their favorite artists would be more likely to purchase energy drinks. That’s not to say there isn’t a vast trove of data here that marketers and advertisers would bend over backwards to get. But the application of that information in how and when advertisements will influence listeners seems to need a little finessing yet.

Anna Washenko