2016 Was the Year of the Streamer. What Does That Mean for Brands?

Last week, I realized that I hadn’t given The Weeknd’s new album a full listen yet. So, like millions of other fans, I pulled it up on my phone and streamed it, front to back. Obviously, there’s nothing remarkable about this scene today. But think back to just over five years ago, when instantly accessing and playing music in this way was far from the norm.

In a decade, we’ve gone from physical CDs and individually priced MP3 downloads to a world where music—and content overall—is available to us anytime, anyplace. And in 2016, streaming officially hit the mainstream: Today, nearly one in two internet users are streamers. It’s more likely than ever that you’re one of them—along with many of your friends, family and colleagues.

Even if you’ve recently gotten into streaming, you’re probably not consciously thinking about how much it’s changed the way you listen. Data tells us that streamers are a uniquely modern kind of consumer, with a distinct set of behaviors that are crucial for brands and marketers to understand. That’s why we teamed up with GroupM, the world’s largest media investment group, to survey over 20K consumers in seven major markets. This collaboration is the first of many to come from our exciting new partnership with WPP, which lets us pair Spotify’s massive data set with GroupM’s LIVE PANEL of 5.5M global consumers for truly unparalleled insights.

Our study, The Streaming State of Mind, reveals crucial insights about who streamers are, how they approach their media, and what trends to expect in the future. Here’s a quick breakdown of what we learned and what it means for your marketing strategy.

For the full Streaming State of Mind study, click here.


So streaming is already mainstream, still growing, and increasingly driven by mobile moments. What does this all mean for agencies and brands?

Enhance Moments.

With on-the-go media becoming an essential part of the consumer’s daily routine, we’re now able to gather deeper contextual data about who people are and what they’re doing at any particular moment. Real people doing real things and taking real actions through all parts of their lives. This new ability to better understand the people behind the devices will allow artists, producers, brands, and marketers to provide content that’s truly meaningful, rather than intrusive or distracting.

Understand Moods.

With music, streaming doesn’t just reveal what people are doing when they listen—in some instances, it can also reveal how they are feeling, thanks to mood-based playlists like Feelin’ Good and Down In The Dumps. This gives marketers a unique opportunity to reach listeners when they’re in the perfect mindstate to engage.

Reach Individuals.

Streamers expect personalized curation, with a majority finding new music through tailored playlists and suggestions from streaming services. Naturally, the ad experience should feel the same way, personally curated to your context. If a college student streams the same Bruno Mars song twice in one day, that doesn’t mean she should hear the same ad twice. Playlist names let you distinguish between when that listener is hosting a party, or playing basketball—and tailor your message accordingly.

One key finding from our study is that the media landscape is far from a zero-sum game. In fact, streamers are consuming more content than ever before. So it’s safe to say we are bullish for the potential to grow the streaming market, and ultimately thrilled about what that growth means for brands and marketers: Unlimited possibilities for creative, innovative, deeply personal advertising experiences.

Alex Underwood is a VP and Head of Global Agency & Partnerships at Spotify.

Click here for the full Streaming State Of Mind study. This collaboration is the result of our new partnership with WPP, which allows us to gain unique insights by pairing Spotify’s vast set of streaming data for 100M users with GroupM’s LIVE Panel of 5.5M consumers worldwide.