This exclusive story on Spotify and Coca-Cola's PlaceLists app is from the latest issue of Billboard magazine (cover date: June 15, 2013), which also includes stories on Apple's upcoming iRadio platform, how brands like the NFL and Hershey's are considering original content and publishing for ads, a look at Loud & Proud records, AEG's international boost of StubHub, a Q&A with UMGD's Jim Urie, a cover story on Janelle Monae and her Wondaland HQ and much more. You can pick up this issue here and subscribe to Billboard here.
When Coca-Cola and Spotify first announced their “global strategic partnership” in April 2012, the vague marketing buzzwords only hinted at the products to come. However, the weekend before Spotify founder Daniel Ek announced the partnership at Ad Age’s Digital Conference in New York, the two companies held a “hack den” where developers feverishly worked on new coding for PlaceLists, a location-based global app for the Web that will be featured on Spotify.
PlaceLists provides a new platform for Spotify users to share and update playlists around the world. Using the app, for example, music fans in New York can listen to and vote on songs being played in Ibiza and vice versa. Using Facebook Connect, Spotify users can also create events and add various songs inspired by different PlaceLists. “Coca-Cola is sold in 207 countries and consumed 1.8 billion times a day,” says Joe Belliotti, director of the beverage company’s global entertainment marketing. “What if everywhere you had a Coke, you had a playlist, whether it’s around the corner or across the world?”
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The app had a soft launch in the United States on May 31, and will debut the week of June 10 in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. Other markets will be added throughout the year and into 2014. Song listening for the U.S. mobile version is expected to launch later this year.
In addition to being a strategic marketing partner, the beverage giant became a minority investor in Spotify several months after the Ad Age conference, in October 2012, when it contributed 10% of a $100 million financing round that also included Goldman Sachs and Fidelity. By the end of the round, Spotify was valued at $3 billion.
The PlaceLists feature will be amplified by a global marketing campaign from Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, with a 60-second spot set to run in U.S. movie theaters this summer featuring the tune “We Come Running” by Republic act Youngblood Hawke. “Every song has a place [and] every place has a song,” the ad copy declares in the spot.
Coke will also use PlaceLists to showcase songs from 52 emerging artists as part of its partnership with advertising placement firm Music Dealers, in which the beverage giant also holds a minority investment. A different new artist will be featured every week, with each song also including the five-note jingle that Coke embedded in its pop songs for the World Cup (K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag”), the 2012 Summer Olympics (Mark Ronson’s “Anywhere in the World”) and its Open Happiness campaigns (Cee Lo Green’s “Open Happiness”) since 2010.
PlaceLists could help Coke accelerate Spotify’s success in various countries—including Mexico, where the service launched in April, for the first time with the help of a brand partner. Other locations—including Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe—will feature PlaceLists information through on-pack promotions printed on millions of Coke products.
“Having a trusted brand like Coke in new territories has really helped us drive early registration,” says Spotify chief marketing and revenue officer Jeff Levick, who adds that expansion into Asia is the next frontier.