With over 60 million UK users and counting, Spotify has paved the way for music marketing to represent a serious proposition for brands to consider.

The music streaming service has ensured its ad options keep apace with the growing number of fans on board, while the offering of ad-free subscriptions guarantees that listeners always have a way of distancing themselves from the occasional branded message. 

Here to explain the ins and outs of marketing with the platform is Jack Milligan, head of branded experiences, EMEA, at Spotify, who takes to the Underground stage at Advertising Week Europe on Wednesday (March 23) for a session on carving great music strategies.

Your session at Ad Week focuses on brands ‘failing to find their rhythm’ with music. Why should they pursue this opportunity?

Jack Milligan: I don’t think we are saying all brands are failing to crack music by any means – it’s just that lots try but don’t really commit to it. Too many brands dip into music and tick a box, not really committing long term or doing anything meaningful.

We just say to brands that if you’re serious about music then really spend time building something that people will connect with over a longer period of time to feel the full benefit. 

It’s also so important to work with artists who buy into the project and are popular with the target audience. It is all too easy to think of an artist that the marketing director likes, but not the audience. At Spotify our data can help identify the right connections.

You’re also planning on exploring the pitfalls involved. What sort of things do brands have to contend with?

JM: I guess finding a niche and sticking with it. Music is a very crowded space and many brands are trying to do something, to varying levels of success. 

Working out what your desired audience is wanting and delivering it in an interesting, shareable way is always going to cut through. Also to bear in mind the challenges around complex rights clearances. This is one of the reasons why music can’t just be an add on, it really needs to be thought through from planning to execution and beyond, due to the number of stakeholders involved. 

Which brands, in your opinion, are trailblazers in marketing through music services? 

JM: Red Bull are always setting the standard, not just in music, but across everything they do. It seems natural, thought through and has continuity year after year. 

Can you derive any common themes from their success?

JM: That they have the same ethos at the heart. Giving people the tools (wings) to achieve what they want to do. It sits nicely with their overarching brand message. 

What is Spotify doing to ensure marketers can consistently measure their performance on the platform?

JM: Having run several music partnerships across the platform, we are in a position to set KPIs based on our learnings and metrics achieved during those partnerships. 

We are also opening up opportunities for brands to deliver content to our users in the Spotify client and on mobile with new video formats, along with moments and playlist targeting. This will offer huge opportunities to push great content to fans with relevant music interests as well as the moment they are listening to music (party, workout, commute etc). Obviously all of this is measured with regular optimisation throughout the campaign.