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Tapping into the most engaged and loyal users to define the future of the Spotify Premium brand and experience.

The ask

In 2008, Spotify launched a first-of-its-kind streaming service, resurrecting the music industry from inevitable demise. But in 2018, amidst savage competition from startups and legacy brands alike, Spotify began to see its decade-long reign erode, coming to a head in July when Apple Music surpassed Spotify Premium’s US subscriber count. Taking cues from the lessons of the past, Spotify recognized the need to “lead the receiver” and evolve its brand and experience to ensure differentiation and spark opportunities for growth. How can Spotify Premium leverage the values and beliefs it shares with its most active and engaged users to define the future of the brand and experience?

Spotify Cosmic Playlists. - Sylvain Labs.


Who is the loyal Spotify Premium subscriber, what motivates them, and how do they differ from Spotify Free users and loyal users of competitive services? This is the question we set out to answer through a quantitative and qualitative exploration that spanned five countries. We began the process by deploying our proprietary Iceberg Study™ to 3,100 loyal music streamers. We then scheduled in-depth follow up conversations with ~30 hand raisers to probe deeper into insights and provocations unearthed in the Iceberg Study.

What did we find? Spotify Premium’s most loyal users are on lifelong quest for understanding and purpose, and music (and content at-large) is a tool they use to help them find their way. This insight gives Spotify a clear role to play as it looks to extend its offering and deliver a uniquely meaningful experience to its users, both on- and off-platform.


We helped Spotify explore the possibilities inherent in this newfound understanding of its most loyal Premium subscribers. In collaboration with key Premium brand stakeholders, we hosted several cross-functional ideation sessions in NY and Stockholm to inspire new, disruptive products, features, and experiences for the Premium brand. In October 2018, Spotify began releasing updates to its Premium mobile app that include many features inspired directly from this work: the revamped, more personalized home screen, horoscope playlists, and personalized artist radio stations, among others.

Innovation Across Borders

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