Why have Apple and Google suddenly gotten so interested in streaming music? Because it could rally people to iOS or Android since mobile is where they listen, according to new stats I’ve attained about Spotify.
The company has been telling its brand advertisers that mobile now accounts for the majority of listening, with 42% on phones and 10% on tablets, while its desktop software handles 45% and its web player runs 3%. It seems the opening of shuffle play on phones and its ad-supported free tier on tablets in late 2013, has drawn more users to Spotify streaming on the go.
This and other stats were shown on screens at a Spotify party for brands and advertisers at CES this week. Spotify declined to comment on the news but did not dispute the authenticity of the stats.
Spotify frequently touts its user and subscriber numbers: 50 million monthly actives and 12 million paying customers. But as Medium founder Ev Williams crystallized last week, it’s engagement that counts, not if someone cruised by your product for one minute this month.
Well Spotify now says the cross-platform users that listen on both desktop and mobile average 150 minutes per day of listening. That comes as song downloads fell 12% in the US in 2014 while song streaming grew a massive 54% over the year.
The Spotify engagement stat shows that getting users on both mobile and desktop boosts platform lock-in and engagement. Users might create playlists on desktop and listen on mobile, or discover an artist through Spotify radio on mobile and then listen to their whole album on desktop. It also signals to brands that they should think about an owned media strategy on Spotify where they create a brand profile and distribute playlists, as listeners are spending serious time on the platform.
Finally, Spotify says 55% of users connect their accounts with Facebook. That’s important, as Spotify needs people’s friend lists to make it easy for them to create a music social sub-graph of friends with similar taste. When Spotify first launched in the US, it required a Facebook account for sign-up. Dropping that requirement appears to have been a smart choice since 22 million users leave their accounts disconnected.
With the looming launch of an iTunes streaming music service from Apple this year that I know hear is slated for early summer, Spotify is pushing on all fronts to get music listeners tuned into its service first.
Spotify is enhancing its product with new features like Top Tracks In Your Network, a constantly updated News Feed-style playlist,t based on what people you follow are listening to, and a partnership with Uber offering listening in the car. It’s striking partnerships with telecoms to bundle Spotify Subscriptions with mobile plans. And it’s offering legal music playback to third-party apps like DJay via an API, so users can DJ with the entire Spotify catalog.
All these moves are designed to create as many loyal Spotify users as possible before they’re presented with a streaming option from Apple. Since the iPhone-maker earns so many billions of dollars from hardware sales, it could potentially undercut Spotify’s $10 a month subscription price point. Apple’s streaming service could come bundled with iPhones or at least pre-installed, which could allow it to immediately leapfrog Spotify’s user count.
Spotify’s best bet is to get people creating playlists, tuning personalized radio stations, building a music social graph, and buying long-term subscriptions in hopes they won’t hop to a competitor. With software usage shifting to mobile across the board, at least these new stats show Spotify is building a user base on the devices of the future.