Spotify makes bigger move into video, but user behaviour may hinder progress

Spotify makes bigger move into video, but user behaviour may hinder progress

Spotify users will see video content “in a bigger way” on the platform this year, according to CEO Daniel Ek.

On its latest earnings call, Ek highlighted that not just music videos but short-form clips would be “a big focus” for the company in 2024.

Music videos were introduced in beta in 11 markets during Q1, with artists testing various options to communicate with fans, tease album releases and share behind-the-scenes footage.

All creators on Spotify can also now release video podcasts.

On this video strategy, Grace Kao, Spotify’s global head of advertising business marketing, told The Media Leader: “Spotify is ready to play in the bigger digital advertising pool and compete for more than audio budgets as our platform is more alive than ever before.”

She added that video consumption on Spotify was growing faster than audio-only, with time spent with video content up 48% year-on-year and more than 500,000 video podcast episodes uploaded so far in 2024, which provides “a strong opportunity for advertisers on our platform”.

On the earnings call, Ek was asked about Spotify’s strategy on music discovery and short-form content amid the US government’s plan to ban TikTok (although the decision is set to be appealed).

While he declined to comment on TikTok specifically, he said: “We are focused on winning discovery and we’re going to add as many ways that we can to improve the discovery of Spotify. So you saw us in the quarter add music videos and you’re going to see music clips in a bigger way.

“You can already today, if you open up the app, start seeing more and more videos on the music side, where artists are engaging with fans in a similar way like a Reels product that TikTok did a few years ago.

“TikTok and other companies have obviously improved the user experience and we’re all, as an industry, learning about these trends and best practices and trying to improve our products. So that’s what great competition does: it helps improve for everyone.”

Analysis: Fighting ingrained behaviour

Buyers The Media Leader spoke to were intrigued by the idea of more videos on Spotify, but were unsure how this would fit with current user behaviour.

Guillermo Dvorak, managing partner at Total Media, said more video is “where Spotify should have been moving a while ago”, but it would need to make “a significant investment” in changing the behaviour of its users.

With nearly 20 years of “ingrained behaviour” where users leave their phone screen off to listen to music, he suggested that it could be “almost cost-prohibitive” for Spotify to change this. For Dvorak, partnering with a short-form video-first player like TikTok “makes most sense”.

Patrick Dolan, head of display and audio at the7stars, questioned what Spotify music videos and clips “would be bringing for the consumer”, unlike AI DJ and playlists, which fits better with the typical behaviour of the platform.

Like Dvorak, he acknowledged that Spotify users tend to listen one-on-one with the screen off — a big difference in behaviour to video-first or social platforms.

“The biggest question is the ‘why’,” Dolan continued. “I don’t know what the USP that Spotify would bring to the table is versus the like of a Reel on Instagram or TikTok. Are they [Spotify] trying to drive further engagement from being more social-focused? I don’t know whether anyone would ever see the app in that way.”

For video to work, Dolan suggested, it would have to be content that consumers cannot find anywhere else and that is suitable for a vertical feed.

Flora Williams, head of planning at Manning Gottlieb OMD, also noted that if the content becomes more like Instagram Reels, “this might not work”.

While a video function for “really engaged personal music discovery” made sense, she concluded that success “will hinge off what content sits on there”.

Further developments

For Dolan, Spotify’s video strategy may be “unclear now”, but he was “excited to see the developments”.

Indeed, although there are currently no commercial plans for video, it could be “as simple” as having pre-roll inventory, he added.

Dvorak agreed that next steps could be sponsorship, then user-generated content and inserted ads around video content.

“They have a market that would be interested and engaged,” he pointed out, highlighting that Spotify also has a wealth of data it could tap into.

Adwanted UK are the audio experts operating at the centre of audio trading, distribution and analytic processing. Contact us for more information on J-ET, Audiotrack or our RAJAR data engine. To access our audio industry directory, visit audioscape.info and to find your new job in audio visit The Media Leader Jobs, a dedicated marketplace for media, advertising and adtech roles.

Media Jobs