The apps and social platforms industry has an intimacy problem, according to a survey of 6,200 people by branding agency MBLM. Released on Wednesday, the study found the sector — including such popular music apps as Spotify and Pandora — ranked 10th out of 15 industries in terms of brand intimacy.
MBLM defines brand intimacy as “the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.” The company notes that the top “intimate” brands generally outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices, with an average revenue growth of 8.68 percent between 2008-2017 for the former and just 3.66 percent for the latter.
Among the music apps and social platforms studied, Spotify and Pandora finished in second and third place, respectively, while last year’s No. 1, Apple Music, fell four spots to fifth. In a press release announcing the study, MBLM singled out Spotify as an example of a company that suffers from a lack of brand intimacy, citing the fact that the music-streaming service only just turned a profit for the first time in Q4 2018, despite having been founded over 13 years ago (notably, the company posted a loss in Q1 2019).
Nonetheless, Spotify made gains this year, rising to No. 1 among app and social platforms with men and No. 2 overall (it also jumped to No. 45 among companies across all industries). And with its recent efforts to test out new features, the company seems intent on attempting to forge stronger bonds with users.
Perhaps the most concerted push in this arena involves the company's recent efforts in the podcasting space, having recently purchased podcast networks Parcast and Gimlet Media and the podcast creation and hosting platform Anchor. As reported by The Verge earlier this week, Spotify may also be testing out a podcast recommendation tool by placing short podcast episodes alongside personalized music suggestions in a playlist geared toward commuters’ drive to work.
Additionally, Techcrunch reports Spotify recently launched its instant listening app Stations on iOS in Australia, after previously releasing it exclusively to Android users in the country. Stations has been described as a “leanback” listening app that allows for a more seamlessly-curated, minimalist and immersive experience for users.
“With the world's music at your fingertips, finding the right thing to play can feel like a challenge," reads a description of the app on the Google Play website. "Stations gets you to music instantly — no searching or typing needed. As Stations learns more about what you like, it creates stations packed with the music you love, made just for you."
Spotify declined to confirm the reports with Billboard.
“At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Some of those tests end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning. We aren’t going to comment on specific tests at this time.”
In April, Spotify became the first streaming service to top 100 million paid users worldwide. That total is believed to be twice its closest competitor, Apple Music — although Apple Music is believed to lead by roughly 2 million more subscribers in the U.S. Spotify reports a monthly active user base of 217 million.