Spotify is encouraging us to ‘send a song’. You’ve probably seen the ads.
I’m assuming their main objective behind the marketing spend is a simple one: acquisition. I send someone a song and if the recipient isn’t signed up to the service then they are invited to do so.
But when Spotify asks me to ‘send a song’ my instinctive reaction is “no thanks”.
Perhaps I’m not the target audience, but why would I use Spotify when I could send the song via YouTube more quickly and minus the compatibility concerns?
Beyond that, I dislike the idea of my sharing being ‘branded’ by Spotify. Why? Because I think there’s something in the presence of the brand which detracts from the purity of the thing I’m sharing; it somehow makes the whole act feel hosted by a third, uninvited party who insists on listening in.
For me it feels much more meaningful to share a dodgy YouTube rip, than a shiny Spotify-sanctioned track, replete with prompted gift tag.
Moving beyond personal mores for one minute, I think there’s something deeper going on here.
On the one hand Spotify is trying to position sharing songs as another gizmo in your social media toolkit – like posting a picture, or sending a tweet. This is tapping into the practice of conversation: distinguished by it’s intuitive, fast and ephemeral nature.
On the other hand, it’s trying to connect this service with traditional, meaningful ‘offline’ music sharing practices, like making a mixtape. This is tapping into the practice of gifting: distinguished by the thought and craft that goes into selection, packaging and customisation.
On conversation it fails because there are simpler ways of sharing ephemera (YouTube). On gifting it fails because the whole point of creating a mixtape is demonstrating you care. And you do the opposite by creating it through an automated, branded system that has ulterior motives (like signing the recipient up).
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the stats and acknowledge that sharing on Spotify is rife. But my instinct is if Spotify wants to build a truly differentiated proposition, its sharing service needs to better reflect why people are doing it in the first place.