Spotify combines machine learning and human expertise to deliver an individual audio experience to each listener. At the end of the day, Spotify’s mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it. The Senior Product Manager at Spotify, Kalle Persson, re-echoed this believe in this interview with TechEconomy.ng. Excerpt:
Q: Spotify’s launch in Nigeria is a good one. However, what actually took the company this long to expand to this market?
Kalle: A key highlight to the launch was working towards a timeline that helps us bring forth a localized product, as it was not just about launching another service but bringing an experience that adds value to the industry. We understand that Africa‘s rich heritage in music and diversity of cultures, translates to a huge range of preferences in music that necessitates agility for any music streaming service to make relevant recommendations and enable discoverability across music genres, personal moods, and moments.
In this context, our efforts in localization just didn’t stop at tracks – we have over 100 local expertly curated playlists for Africa.
In addition to this, when we launch, we always want to be legal and fully licensed so we work toward putting these agreements in place with all local and international rights holders in the music industry.
Q: What are the ingredients in Spotify’s recipe for success in Africa?
Kalle: We are really committed to the user experience. Spotify connects listeners and creators in a unique and enriching way, by employing machine learning and leveraging human expertise to deliver an individual audio experience to each listener.
We see Spotify as an ecosystem, and the two methods work together in harmony. We have an amazing local and international team behind playlists like Hot Hits Naija and African Heat, who listen closely to our users, to understand what they love.
Our algorithmic recommendations are personalized to each listener’s unique taste, taking into account a variety of factors: what you’re listening to and when, which songs you’re adding to your playlists, and the listening habits of people who have similar tastes. Our technology turns these inputs into recommendations of something you’ll really love, whether that’s an old favourite or a song you never knew you’d be into.
Personalization kicks in immediately after you sign up: when you’re a new user, we ask you for your favorite artists and genres, and serve up Daily Mix playlists that immediately reflect your music taste in different genres and styles. We apply this type of personalization to help you discover new podcasts as well. For example, On Home, you’ll find different types of podcast recommendations based on your previous listening as well as similar podcasts other fans are enjoying so that you can easily find your next favorite show.
This is entirely based on data. We capture more than half a trillion “events” on our service every day from listeners interacting with music and podcasts on Spotify, and we leverage that data to power the recommendations that our users know and enjoy. By continuously listening and learning people’s habits and interests, we deliver an ever-evolving soundtrack for each listener and that’s why Spotify is loved.
Q: What are your plans for the local artists – because as a global platform, most of them would like to jump into the ‘boat’?
Kalle: With the launch of Spotify in Africa, the local artists can benefit from exposure to over 345 million global listeners. Sounds and stories from Nigeria that once remained local will have access to a global audience of fans. And by surfacing incredible local talents, Spotify listeners will have more opportunities to discover unique local sounds, voices, and cultures.
Additionally, we have Spotify for Artists. It offers tools that help artists to track real-time statistics for new releases, learn their audience, run their business, and connect with the community. Other major developments that will impact artists in Africa include integration with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat because we understand that music shareability is a rising trend globally.
Q: Is your subscription rate not relatively high because this market is still largely a ‘sachet economy’ where people still pick up CD plates by the roadside or even download online?
Kalle: We adapt our pricing to each market of operation. Our prices are in line with local price expectations. Understanding the African market, we put forward a range of user subscription plans that span from a monthly subscription, Premium Family, Premium Student, and Premium Duo plans. This ensures we are customizing our premium value offering, making it accessible across price-conscious consumer segments. We also have pay-as-you-go options to suit your needs.
Q: What are the incentives your Nigerian subscribers should expect?
Kalle: We’re always looking for ways to provide the best possible methods for people to discover and enjoy the music they love. Our Premium subscriptions give you on-demand access to millions of hours of audio content, no matter when you sign up. Additionally, there are no ad interruptions, and you can enjoy unlimited music. Premium also allows you to download your favorite music and podcasts to play whenever, wherever you want, without using up your mobile data.
Q: Do you have plans to activate programmes and other activities to endear Spotify to the local users?
Kalle: We are just getting started. But we’re very proud of our RADAR AFRICA program that is dedicated to emerging artists. One of our recent RADAR artists was Nigerian sensation, Tems. I am actually a fan of her music. What’s really special about RADAR AFRICA is that it offers rising talents marketing and editorial support, helping them connect with fans from all over the world. It’s really a great way to kickstart your career.
Q: In what areas are you investing in Nigeria?
Kalle: It is important we remain culturally relevant in the markets we are available. Our operations vary by region, but we are dedicated to having a long-term presence in every market.
Q: There are other streaming platforms already in Nigeria. What are your chances here? What difference are you bringing to the market?
Kalle: We launched in Nigeria with our unrivalled mix of features that have made us the world’s most popular audio streaming subscription service, including more than 70 million international and local songs, 2.2 million podcasts, and over 4 billion playlists. We offer everyday new music and podcast discovery, algorithmic recommendations personalised to each listener’s audio taste.
Our freemium model really caters to the different needs of our listeners. If they want to listen to music for free, they have that option and if they want to pay for Spotify to get the full experience we have different plans for that.
At the end of the day, our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.
Q: What share of the music streaming market are you planning to gain on the African continent? What will you count as success in the region?
Kalle: Ultimately, we think the best measure of our contribution to the industry is the number of artists who now have a chance to build their careers and make a living from their music thanks to Spotify. We intend to grow this region’s music market, and digital revenues for labels, distributors, and publishers in Africa as we have done previously in markets we’ve launched so far.