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Spotify’s marketing activity is effective at delivering publicity, subscriber growth, and positive earnings results for the company. Spotify can tap demographic, generational, regional, and seasonal insights through their user data. Both agency and in-house creative teams have endless material to inform and create engaging campaigns that work across paid, owned, and earned media. Spotify is a consistently visible advertiser with a smart strategy, fueled by consumer insights, and a deep understanding of online listening behavior. Its annual “Wrapped” campaign has become a cultural barometer for the entertainment industry. Partnerships with Holiday icons such as Mariah Carey and the “Artist Wrapped” (B2B) version of the campaign provides shareable content to active artists and creators.

Spotify “Wrapped” Brand Campaign

  • Now in its fifth year, Spotify’s end-of-year "Wrapped" campaign used the results of a decade’s worth of listener insights to create traditional, digital, and native/in-app creative executions.
  • Outdoor advertising played a key role — there were 5,100 unique billboards and other out-of-home placements running globally. Out-of-home executions of note included London’s Westfield shopping center, where the brand turned Mariah Carey’s dress into a holiday wonderland. In Brazil, the São Paulo yellow line became the Spotify Line.
  • The annual Spotify campaign began in 2015 as a microsite showing the top songs and top genres for each year. In 2016, it included personalized year-end playlists and was rebranded officially as "Wrapped." In 2018, the campaign debuted in 18 markets, and in 2019, it ran in an additional 21 markets, including the UK, US, Brazil, and Japan.
  • Executions vary based on the local market, but the global campaign featured record-holding artists such as Mariah Carey, Lil Nas X, BTS, and J. Balvin. According to Alex Bodman, Spotify’s vice president and global executive creative director, the online campaign presence is "largely organic." All executions are designed for social media sharing, and lists are already formatted like Instagram-style stories. Tools for creators are increasingly focused on social-media ready content.
  • The campaign featured on their native mobile app for the first time in 2019. In prior years, it was only accessible on the desktop version. Spotify users generate a personalized summary of their listening habits based on usage data across all library content, including music and the ever-expanding podcast catalog. Of Spotify's 271 million monthly active users, more than 60 million users engaged with the new in-app integration.
  • There were nearly 3 billion streams from the curated playlists in the first week, and campaign mentions in at least 1.2 million Twitter posts and curated moments.
  • According to post-campaign data released in February 2020, 40 million users had shared their “Wrapped” stories and cards on social media. There were an additional 6.5 billion streams of the “Year/Decade Top Songs” playlists.

Mariah Carey Partnership: "Christmas. Starts. Now."

  • Customer insights identified Mariah Carey as the ideal partner for Spotify. As part of the "Wrapped" review of the most streamed artists of the decade, Carey is a regular in the rankings and active on social media channels.
  • In addition to featuring her streaming statistics on outdoor installations, they created an exclusive Spotify "enhanced album" to kick off the Holidays. They made her the "cornerstone" of their "Wrapped" consumer and artist campaigns.
  • Spotify hosted a "Christmas Control Center" for Mariah, where she officially launched the Holiday season (in November) by pressing a button. The branded microsite featured exclusive and original content including a 25th Anniversary album, humorous videos, playlists, and other shareable content to encourage global fans to engage with Mariah, both in-app and on her social media feeds.
  • Mariah Carey's Christmas anthem "All I Want for Christmas is You" is one of the most played Christmas songs globally. According to Spotify, the track has been added to 12 million playlists, has over 520 million streams and there are 1,000 cover versions available from artists such as Michael Bublé, and Fifth Harmony.
  • In 2018, there was a 2000% increase in streams from October to December, and Christmas Eve is traditionally the biggest day for streaming Mariah Carey songs.
  • Spotify users aged 18-24 are the top age group, accounting for 29% of total listening.
  • "All I Want For Christmas Is You" was the highest-charting holiday (Christmas/New Year) song on the Billboard US Hot 100 by a solo artist, according to the current Guinness World Records 2020 book. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time since its release in 1994.

Success Attributed to Marketing Activity

  • In addition to engagement metrics already mentioned, Spotify's financial releases and quarterly results attribute their growth to their promotional activity.
  • In the year-end letter to investors, the company said monthly active user (MAU) growth was 30% year-on-year, with North America seeing its fastest quarterly growth since Q4, 2018.
  • Final quarter results were "bolstered by promotional activity," namely the 5th annual year-end "Wrapped" campaign. Annual results were "boosted by strong free MAU growth, the success of the Wrapped campaign, and higher than expected seasonality lift over the holiday period."
  • Spotify is outpacing its nearest competitor, Apple, and they added roughly twice as many subscribers per month, year-on-year.
  • More than 60% of Spotify users discovered an artist from a country outside their own.
  • Chris Beer, a senior trends analyst at GlobalWebIndex told The Drum, “Spotify earnings demonstrate a positive outlook for the platform...with accelerated growth for the third consecutive quarter, in subscribers and more brands turning to the platform to reach their target audience.”
  • Spotify successfully converts free users into premium subscribers and 40% of listeners are now on a paid-for account, compared to 35% at this period, two years ago.

Research Strategy

There is considerable coverage of Spotify's brand campaigns and their creative work is tracked by the leading trade press sources including Campaign, The Drum, Advertising Age, Moat and Digital Music News. Many executions are localized, and due to the dominance of out-of-home placement in their integrated communications strategy, only the most popular are captured in the public domain. Spotify's media relations section features the most high profile executions and any available success metrics.
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Apple Music

Apple Music is not supported by advertising at a subscription level, and the strategies that Apple has used to continue to grow the user platform has been contingent upon the success of its other products, particularly the iPhone.

Brand Campaigns

Memoji Billboards

  • In February 2019, Apple Music launched an advertising campaign showcasing the Memoji versions of musicians who were nominated for a Grammy. Memojis are animated emoji characters that can be made to look like someone's real appearance.
  • Apple placed billboards at the Hotel Figueroa in LA, down the street from the Staples Center where the Grammy's are held.
  • Photos of the billboards can be seen here.

Apple Music Awards

  • In December 2019, Apple announced its first ever Apple Music Awards.
  • The Apple Music Awards honored "achievements in music across five distinct categories, and winners are chosen through a process that reflects the service's editorial perspective..."
  • The awards for Album of the Year and Song of the Year are based on streaming data and are reflective of the listening trends of Apple Music customers.
  • Portraits and descriptions of the winners can be seen here.

DJ Khaled Ad Campaign

  • In July 2018, Apple released a comic ad spot featuring DJ Khaled and many Apple products. The ad features a comic interaction between DJ Khaled, his son, Asahd, and Kevin Hart doing a voice over in the background.
  • The ad was released soon after reports that Apple Music had surpassed Spotify in US-based subscribers.
  • The commercial is a partnership to promote both Apple Music and DJ Khaled's latest single at the time, which was titled "No Brainer."
  • The ad also serves to tie different Apple products together into a cohesive ecosystem. The HomePod was featured in the ad in an attempt to persuade customers to consider purchasing one. Consumers who purchase a HomePod are also extremely likely to subscribe to Apple Music.
  • The ad can be viewed here.

Artist-Specific Campaigns

  • Flume, an eclectic electronic music producer, curated the Future Sounds playlist on Apple Music in November 2019. The playlist is reflective of Flume's broad taste.

Brand Partnerships

  • On February 4, 2020, Apple Music announced that it had signed a deal with digital media and lyrics company Genius to enable episodes of Verified to be streamed on the platform. In return, Apple Music can premiere co-produced episodes of Verified exclusively on Apple Music. Verified is Genius' artist interview show that looks at the meaning and stories behind artists' lyrics. It should be noted that Apple Music was already the official music player for Genius.
  • In January 2019, Apple announced an Apple Music partnership with American Airlines. The partnership allows Apple Music subscribers to stream music while flying with American Airlines without having to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi. Non-Apple Music users can sign up onboard American flights for three-month trials, which serves as a funnel for Apple Music.

Other Notes

Research Strategy

Apple Music only delivers subscriptions to iOS users or on computers via iTunes. Because of this, Apple relies more on its own products to gain audio users. Through our extensive searches, we discovered that Apple Music does not seem to have any large, flashy campaigns and instead relies on exclusive material and partnerships that benefit Apple Music users. The most recent marketing campaigns feature the Memoji Billboards and the Apple Music Awards, and after extensive parsing through Apple press releases and marketing reports, the last commercial found was the one featuring DJ Khalid and the Homepod. The commercial before that one was one featuring Taylor Swift in 2016.

Although based in Europe, the marketing news platform The Drum has a search page dedicated to recent marketing news that are associated with Apple Music. The latest news was seven months ago and was mainly about Apple Airpods. The news before that was about Spotify. On Adweek, the last piece of Apple Music-centric advertising news was about James Corden's Carpool Karaoke Spinoff Series on Apple Music in 2017. Therefore, it was difficult to find marketing campaigns for Apple Music, mainly because it seemed like Apple Music had not had a campaign in some time.

We also searched for marketing case studies involving Apple Music, hoping they would contain information on the platform's recent marketing efforts in the United States or elsewhere. We consulted sources such as Hubspot, Alexa, Wordstream, among many others for case studies centered on Apple Music's marketing campaigns. However, this research strategy was not fruitful as we could not locate relevant case studies. We only found random marketing case studies not involving Apple Music, suggestions for how the platform could market itself, etc.

Artist-centric campaigns for Apple Music mainly focused on playlist or Beats 1 radio takeovers. After searching on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit, we were unsuccessful in locating any posts, "Ask Me Anything's" (AMAs), or tweets by artists themselves. We were also not successful in finding metrics of success for individual Apple Music campaigns. However, in April 2019, it was revealed that Apple Music had more paying subscribers in the U.S. than Spotify. This was not a success from any particular campaign, but rather it was an indicator of early success for Apple's first new subscription service, which aims to sell existing iPhone users paid monthly subscriptions to online services.

A few more strategies allowing Apple Music to grow include the fact that the app is pre-installed on iPhones, and Verizon bundles free Apple Music subscriptions with select cell phone service plants. Keeping these strategies in mind, it seems that Apple Music focuses more on brand partnerships and how music streaming can be bundled with Apple's other products.
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YouTube Music

YouTube Music ran three marketing campaigns in the last 12 months, which include the sponsorship of the British Music Awards in February 2019 and an upcoming 2020 edition later this month, the launch of the YouTube Music app in June 2019, and an artist spotlight campaign featuring Halsey in January 2020.

YouTube Music as the "Official Music App of Brits" in 2019 and 2020

  • In February 2019, YouTube Music marketed itself as the "Official Music App of Brits 2019". Brits is the more commonly used name for the British Music Awards, the UK equivalent of the Grammys.
  • As part of its marketing campaign, YouTube Music projected content from the Brit Awards across County Hall, the London Eye, and Old Billingsgate.
  • The venture was considered an experiential marketing project with YouTube Music supporting the Brits by becoming the event's official music app, while YouTube acted as the award's international live stream partner.
  • It was recently announced that YouTube Music is going to be the sponsor of the 2020 Brits, with the ceremony happening later this month. As part of the social media campaign, YouTube Music predicted the winners of the 2020 Brit Awards based on the number of views the nominated artists have received on Vevo and YouTube.
  • Images of the campaign have been compiled in the attached document.
  • When it comes to the metrics of success, videos from the Brit Awards ceremony reached millions of people, with one of the most viewed videos whose title is "'Woman Like Me' by Little Mix wins British Artist Video of the Year | The BRIT Awards 2019," garnering 1.1M views.

YouTube Music app launch campaign

  • In June 2019, YouTube Music hired Swift, an advertising agency, to launch its app.
  • The app launch campaign was described with the tag line, "Everyone's heard Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. But you don't get to see the first time it was played live in an Olympia dive bar...or at the Reading Festival...or performed by a full orchestra. Unless you visit YouTube."
  • The launch was primarily focused on Instagram, and to announce the YouTube Music app, the agency curated a 36-tile Instagram takeover that showcased some modern music's greatest moments. This included celebrating "the diversity and interconnectivity of artists," ranging from the Beatles, James Brown, Madonna and Missy Elliott to big pop stars such as Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, and Shawn Mendes.
  • According to Swift, the success metrics of the campaign included more than 10 million downloads of the app in first 90 days, the app charting #1 on the overall charts in new markets, 135 media outlets from 16 different countries covering the launch, and the Instagram channel experiencing a 7.6% growth of the profile during the launch day.
  • Images of the campaign have been compiled in the attached document.

Artist spotlight: Halsey

  • Halsey launched her new album in January 2020 and YouTube music featured her as the artist in the spotlight in a new campaign by the music application.
  • The album by Halsey included coverage on Instagram, a heavy feature on YouTube Music's Instagram stories, a spotlight on YouTube Music landing page, and a promotion on Twitter.
  • Images of the campaign have been compiled in the attached document.
  • When it comes to metrics of success, the Instagram post promoting Halsey's album garnered over 7K likes, while the Twitter post saw over 150 retweets and 120 replies.
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Amazon Music

Amazon Music's success has relied heavily on Amazon's overall brand reach and existing customer relationships, causing the global brand reach to be less evenly distributed than Apple and Spotify's. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Amazon has been building its reach in non-core markets through music and video.

Brand Campaigns

"A Voice is All You Need" by Wieden+Kennedy

  • Although the campaign started in August 2018, Amazon Music's "A Voice is All You Need" campaign is still ongoing.
  • Developed by advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, the campaign features TV commercials highlighting the powerful vocals of notable songs, demonstrating "the simplicity of voice with Alexa". Brightly hued animated lips accompany the vocals, morphing into the Amazon arrow at the end of the commercial while prompting viewers to sign up for Amazon Music's 30-day free trial.
  • Songs used include classics like "Somebody To Love" by Queen as well as more recent hits by Taylor Swift, Chance the Rapper, and Ariana Grande.
  • The ads further celebrate the growth of Amazon Music against competitors by showcasing its lead in voice innovation and experience with Alexa.
  • In the week of Ariana Grande's new album release of "Sweetener", an ad was featured above Times Square with the iconic "A Voice is All You Need" sequence, with text reading "Alexa Play New Ariana Grande" at the end.
  • The ads, including the Times Square feature, can be seen here.

Artist-Specific Campaigns

  • Kamasi Washington unveiled a new film, "Kamasi Washington Live at The Apollo Theater", via Prime Video on February 6, 2020, in partnership with Amazon Music. "The Bombshell's Waltz", a previously unheard work by Washington, made a debut on Amazon Music.
  • Amazon Music has taken on hip-hop and rap strategically over the past year by staffing its music team with connected industry leaders. Using the "Amazon Original" approach and creating original music content with global artists with engaged audiences, Amazon Music has been leading an Afrobeat strategy. Music curators work with afro wave artists to create Amazon Original songs.
  • For Megan Trainor's new album release, Amazon Music posted an exclusive video on Instagram of Meghan Trainor describing why her new album was so special to her. Amazon Music also did the same for Dua Lipa's new track "Physical".
  • Amazon Music recently launched a new series on Instagram called "Song For That", where artists told Amazon Music which songs completed the soundtrack to their life. The debut featured Liam Payne.
  • Amazon Music Twitter also "retweets" shout outs by artists thanking the platform for featuring their new songs on playlists. Beach Bunny and Mike Casey were among the artists.

Brand Partnerships

  • Near Christmas 2019, Dolby Laboratories produced a short film and a marketing push featuring Coldplay, with Dolby Atmos Music and Amazon's Echo Studio, the brand's hi-fidelity smart speaker, featured. Since then, Dolby has been expanding, and has plans to release music in Dolby Atmos, which is a format currently available for streaming on Amazon Music HD and via Echo Studio. A Dolby Laboratories and Amazon billboard has been spotted in Los Angeles, advertising the Dolby Atmos format with Echo Studio. The billboard can be seen here.

Concerts and Events

  • On July 10, 2019, Amazon Music's Prime Day Concert was available for streaming by Prime members. In the show, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, SZA, and Becky G were performers.
  • Amazon Music hosted a giveaway for a chance to win passes to meet Halsey at her "Manic The Experience" show on January 17, 2020, in Los Angeles. Participants had to be following Amazon Music on Instagram and comment why they wanted to go to the show.

Research Strategy

Amazon's singular, major campaign is the ongoing "A Voice is All You Need", and apart from that campaign, we were unable to find another Amazon Music campaign of the same scale after searching on multiple marketing news sites, such as The Drum. After searching through Amazon Music's social media platforms, namely Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit, we were unable to find any specific artist takeovers. However, it is evident that Amazon interacts with users constantly, asking them what songs they recommend or what artists they were currently listening to. Amazon also showcases many artists on Instagram, and while the artists themselves are not directly interacting with the Amazon Music population, Amazon Music strives to post exclusive videos and interviews with the artists for users to view. This serves to not only hear about the music-making process from the artists, but also to advertise their new albums or songs. Amazon Music is very involved with big-name artists such as Taylor Swift, Halsey, and Dua Lipa, and hosts events and giveaways with experiences corresponding to those artists.

We were not able to find any metrics of success accompanying each of the campaigns. Since "A Voice is All You Need" is ongoing, there is no ability to indicate whether Amazon Music's growth could be attributed to the campaign or to other factors. The impact of social media posts on Amazon Music streaming metrics were also unable to be found. On January 22, 2020, reports indicate that Amazon Music has passed 55 million customers. The platform is growing at an unprecedented rate, and it is due in large part to its versatility. The multiple rungs that make up Amazon Music, as well as the platform's pairing with Amazon Prime membership and Alexa, have served to boost the service's popularity.
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In the past six to twelve months, TIDAL has marketed itself using social media channels, names of the big artists, exclusive content, the content with "Parental Advisory Explicit Content" warning, and collaborations & promotional activities with fashion stores, a payment app, and other companies. The Google document containing screenshots of the social media posts, videos, and other promotional ads can be seen here.


  • TIDAL has a strong social media presence and utilizes various social media platforms for its marketing activities. The company has social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • TIDAL has shared various posts, photos, and videos on these social media platforms. It has 292.5K Twitter followers, 1,049,291 Facebook followers, and 567k Instagram followers.
  • TIDAL usually shares news, videos, photos, ads, and comments related to artists, events, and the company's messaging itself. However, most of the content was specific to artists-related marketing along with a company logo.
  • TIDAL has integrated its website with social media sites to allow it to share marketing information with its audience.


  • TIDAL is a "subscription-based audio, video and podcast streaming service" that was launched in 2014 in Norway. Later, in 2015, the brand was acquired by musician Jay Z and since then TIDAL is being promoted as the "first artist-owned music streaming service."
  • The brand utilizes "big-name artists including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Madonna and Kanye West" to attract public attention and buzz around the brand.
  • TIDAL's recent post on Instagram on January 30, 2020, featured JLo and Shakira that reads "Want to watch the big game’s performances again & again? We’ve got you covered! You’ll be able to stream performances by @ddlovato, @yolandaadams, + halftime headliners: @jlo & @shakira the same night as the big game!"
  • TIDAL has recently shared an event-related post that happened at Apollo Theater on January 9, 2020. The post reads "Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are joining Elliott Wilson for an in-depth interview + giving fans a preview of their new movie 'Bad Boys For Life.'"
  • On January 3, 2020, TIDAL had shared "Justin Bieber returns with brand new single #Yummy."





  • TIDAL uses its program called TIDAL Rising which is a dedicated program for artists around the globe.
  • TIDAL Rising is used to curating and featuring a "select group of artists across genres from around the world, with support from TIDAL's artist & label relations, editorial, marketing, promotions, public relations, and social media teams, to introduce fans to vibrant and dynamic music they may have otherwise missed."
  • TIDAL posts artist's related videos on social media featuring they are on TIDAL Rising's playlist. The brand also posts "Rising Star of the Week."
  • One of its recent posts on Twitter was for Hazel English "@iamhazelenglish delivers the perfect daydreaming soundtrack with “Off My Mind.”
  • They also have a TIDAL X program that "connects artists directly with fans by giving them a platform to engage with them in unique ways, including one-of-a-kind live shows, events, artist meet & greets, and concert tickets for TIDAL members to enjoy."
  • Some of its examples include:
  • "The Fenty by Rihanna runway show in Paris was streamed live for TIDAL members, a selection of whom were also granted access to attend the exclusive event. "
  • "Chance The Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day music festival was streamed live, offering TIDAL members the chance to see performances from artists such as Young Thug, Alicia Keys, and Chance himself."


  • Bershka and TIDAL: Bershka, the "fashion chain" collaborated with TIDAL and will "host a shop-in-shop of streaming platform Tidal in selected stores." Under this deal, customers will get a "three months of free music in Tidal" each time they purchase in Bershka.
  • Venmo and TIDAL: TIDAL has recently collaborated with Venmo and will accept "Venmo as a way to pay for the service."
  • Although this is not the exclusive deal, it "does help Tidal stand out in a field of apps including Apple Music and Spotify, which only accept PayPal."


While a direct search through publicly available sources could not provide the desired information related to the brand level social media marketing campaign and artist-specific social media campaigns, the research team expanded the research criteria beyond the company's website. Further searches were performed through press releases, marketing reports, ad specific sites, and media articles. Through this method also, we were only able to gather limited information. However, we were able to obtain the details related to TIDAL's marketing efforts, promotional activities, and other relevant details. Our research activities also involved searching through the company's social media accounts to get the details of its marketing efforts. In order to provide a comprehensive report, we had to use a few sources a little older than 12 months of time.
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For over a decade, Pandora was a go-to site for music listeners. Currently, competitors such as Spotify and Apple Music have taken much of Pandora's key demographics. In the recent years, Pandora has been fighting to stay relevant and innovative enough, so that its brand doesn't fade into the sea of obscure platforms.

Brand Marketing Campaigns

"Be You"

  • A commercial featured a woman "turning her kitchen into the world's coolest nightclub", just to be revealed at the end to be thrashing in the kitchen. Another featured a man imagining himself performing at a concert while mowing his lawn, only to be revealed from the neighbors' point of view to be dancing wildly on his lawn, shirtless. The ads illustrate the disconnect that can exist between someone's perception of the world and how others perceive the person.
  • Using humor, music, and high-end production, Pandora aimed to drive home that its platform is the destination for on-demand listening. The campaign also adds to Pandora's 'life is better with sound on' narrative.
  • Brad Minor, VP of brand marketing for Pandora, says that lapsed users said they wished Pandora would let them play what they want, when they want. The reality is that Pandora has had on-demand capabilities for several years, but it was not successfully advertised. "Be You" serves to amplify the presence of the on-demand services to users.
  • The campaign commercials were available on YouTube and were shown on TV. Digital and out-of-home (OOH) images were advertised online and on billboards, imploring readers to, "Just play the damn song — you can actually do that."
  • All commercials and images used digitally and for billboards can be seen here.

"Sound On"

  • Pandora launched a new "Sound On" brand campaign in March 2019. It ran in six markets for 12 weeks and was accompanied by a debut of a "sonic logo" that consumers can associate with the brand. The company wanted to portray the idea of "content in context", amplifying the notion of spring energy and the spirit of discovery.
  • Sound walls, a social-media sound board, and a "Sound On" lounge at select music festivals were involved in the campaign.
  • The campaign ran in New York, San Francisco, Oakland, Atlanta, Miami, and Nashville with takeovers in Times Square, the Oculus, the Nashville Sign, and Oracle Arena.
  • Pandora ultimately commissioned 20 composers and sound designers to create 200 possible logos. The company also commissioned leading street artists to create wall murals that depict unique interpretations of sound and spring discovery. The murals also included QR codes that link to custom playlists on Pandora curated by the street artists.
  • Site-takeovers were executed on the Thrillist, Vevo, and Vox online properties, as well as integration with Facebook, Hulu, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter sites.
  • The Jonas Brothers, John Legend, 2 Chainz, and Becky G appeared in the campaign.
  • A couple of photos can be seen at this link.

"Nuestro Sound Event, Presented by Target

  • Pandora partnered with Target to host the Nuestro Sound experience for 440 Pandora listeners in the Los Angeles area in December 2019.
  • The Latin-infused event was held at Candela La Brea, one of the first Latin clubs in L.A. It featured a headlining performance by Pedro Capo, who was the winner of Song of the Year at the Latin Grammy's, as well as opportunities for photo moments.
  • Attendees were able to take home Reina Rebelde products and Target gift cards. Images from the event can be accessed at this link.

Artist-Specific Campaigns

SiriusXM/Pandora Shows

  • SiriusXM and Pandora held a concert series ahead of the 2020 Super Bowl. There were two free exclusive concerts on back-to-back nights featuring The Chainsmokers and Lizzo. Harry Styles made a surprise guest performance at Lizzo's performance. Pandora's Instagram features story highlights of the two concerts.
  • In August 2019, SiriusXM and Pandora treated listeners to an exclusive Jonas Brothers performance at Webster Hall in New York. It was free for Pandora listeners and SiriusXM subscribers.
  • On February 6, 2020, Pearl Jam announced an intimate Apollo Theater show with SiriusXM/Pandora. Tickets will be "invitation-only" for SiriusXM subscribers and Pandora listeners.
  • On February 7, 2020, Georgia Music Partners hosted a Meetup Series event called "The DJ Experience" that was sponsored by Pandora.

Research Strategy

Pandora's brand campaigns in the past 6-12 months have received a lot of press, as well as its concert series and free events. However, we were not able to find many instances of artist specific social media campaigns. On Twitter, we searched for any posts that mentioned takeovers using different keyword combinations and hashtags with minimal success. On Instagram, story highlights were not artist-centric, and no posts on the Pandora Instagram detailed any Instagram specials or takeovers. A search on the Pandora Reddit for any "Ask Me Anything's" (AMA) was unsuccessful. Because Reddit has historically been a space where fans advertise appearances on a platform, we also tried searching for any news of an artist social media campaign on the Pandora Reddit. Keyword combinations were again used to parse the forum for any news, but we were unsuccessful once again. Besides the keyword search on different social media platforms, we also searched through press releases on the Pandora website with no success. In the end, we could only find press on the Drake partnership and, after extensive searching through the Pandora Twitter archives, the Janet Jackson playlist takeover. However, it is important to note that the Drake partnership has not generated any additional updates since its announcement in July 2019.
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Since being launched in 2008 by ClearChannel, iHeartRadio has become a dominant force in streaming radio broadcasting. The service has nearly 850 live broadcast radio stations (it also offers podcasts and hosted content), and boasts a quarter of a million monthly users.

With this strong foundation and the fact that research shows that time spent listening to audio content is at an all-time high based in part on the booming popularity of podcasts, iHeartRadio is positioned for success. However, it faces competition from streamers of live radio such as SiriusXM, those providing curated catalogs like Spotify, and hybrid streamers like Pandora. Additionally, the company recently completed a debt restructuring process after Chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning it has increased pressure to double down on its success.

iHeartRadio's marketing efforts mix events, social media, and partner marketing to surround prospective listeners with a 360-degree, immersive message about its brand. Social media is an especially important channel for the brand, as it serves as both a delivery vehicle for the product and a promotional channel.

Event-Related Social Media

Events are a cornerstone of the iHeartRadio brand, which characterizes itself as a producer of "The Biggest Moments In Sound & Pop Culture." The brand has produced a full slate of live concert events in all genres of music yearly since 2011. Its longest-running event, the iHeartRadio Music Festival, a two-day event in Las Vegas, was held last year on September 20-21. The show featured a diverse lineup including Alicia Keys, Cage The Elephant, Camila Cabello, Chance The Rapper, Def Leppard, French Montana, Halsey, Heart, H.E.R., Miley Cyrus, Mumford & Sons, Tim McGraw, and the Zac Brown Band. As last year's lineup evinces, this event is an especially important marketing vehicle for the brand because it showcases the wide range of genres that iHeartRadio represents.

While the whole event is a cavalcade of marketing for the brand, its social media component is a particularly strong element.
While the iHeartRadio events may appear to be fun-loving festivals, when recorded for rebroadcast and layered with social media, they become, in fact, branding juggernauts. This type of integrated social media campaign is replicated for each of iHeartRadio's events, utilizing an approach that weaves together iHeartRadio's national brand platform, its 848 local stations, and whatever other media platforms are tied in to a particular event (i.e., in this case, The CW) into a hard-to-replicate 360 degree approach to its target audience that drives attention back to the iHeartRadio brand at each and every touchpoint.

Green Day Album Release Party

iHeartRadio uses social media extensively to reach potential listeners by promoting artists and bands of interest. One noteworthy campaign of late surrounded Green Day's album drop for "Father of All...", released February 7, 2020. iHeartRadio booked the band for a release party that streamed on as well as YouTube, LiveXLive's Twitch channel and LiveXLive's social feeds. During the event, the band performed and answered questions live.
  • iHeartRadio promoted the event extensively via their social media platforms to draw listeners to its stations and content.
  • The brand's media partners also promoted the event via social media to bring in an audience not only to their platforms, but also to iHeartRadio.
  • The band itself also promoted the event via their social media platforms, drawing in their loyal followers and driving them to iHeartRadio.
Snapshots of these facets of the social media campaign are captured in the accompanying Google Doc.

While it is not possible to collect empirical results of this campaign due to its breadth, a cursory review of listener/viewer reactions indicates an overwhelmingly positive reaction. Two representative listener tweets are also included in the accompanying Google Doc.

In much the same manner as the brand leverages their events via social media, the brand uses its connections with artists across the social media landscape by working with its partners in complimentary broadcast media to create a completely immersive marketing experience. Additionally, this "cookie-cutter" approach is executed with each artist with whom the brand partners. Finally, the brand accrues "street cred" via its association with these artists, which is especially true when the talent itself participates in the social media campaign.

Research Strategy

In order to provide this analysis, we started our search from the company website as provided. We performed an in-depth review of the investor relations portion of the website to review the company's strategic approach to the marketplace. We additionally reviewed industry publications to ascertain the company's overall approach to marketing in the recent past.

Subsequently, we used the links on the website to visit their Twitter and Instagram accounts. A review of these accounts led us to an investigation of various events produced by the company, which led to our selection of the most recent iteration of their cornerstone event and its surrounding social media for inclusion in this study. We chose the most recent artist event and surrounding media to profile simply for its immediacy and because while reviewing the strategic framework carried out in the event marketing social media execution, it was easy to observe that the company's marketing strategy depends on a pattern of consistent scalability — all campaigns, regardless of their subject, are carried out using the same methodology.

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Soundcloud's social media marketing has been witnessed on popular platforms like Twitter and also on Soundcloud, which is viewed as a form of social media for musicians. This form of social media has seen independent artists like Billie Eilish and Chance The Rapper emerge and become dominant in their genres. Zooming in on Chance The Rapper, who was one of the first musicians to be onboard Soundcloud's premier service, it is apparent that Soundcloud has held social media campaigns with such artists.

Marketing efforts

  • In 2018, Soundcloud ran a campaign called 'First on Soundcloud' that promoted emerging artists. The launch involved 10 artists that were making great strides in Soundcloud's global community. Special mention goes to Kehlani and Taylor Bennet, who were a part of this cohort.
  • Soundcloud has conducted significant social media marketing through its Premier Program, which has seen artists like Chance the Rapper earn money via the platform through marketing and ad-sharing deals while serving as ambassadors for the brand, something Chance did well when he acknowledged Soundcloud's role in his speech at the Grammy's and later on Twitter in defense of the brand.
  • A concert for Chance's top 0.001% fans was also held. Twitter was swamped with fans looking to find ways to be included. Such publicity can be viewed as a positive when considering the metrics in terms of respondents and participants engaged with Soundcloud.

First on Soundcloud

  • The 'First on Soundcloud' campaign covered these artists' first albums, festival performances, stories, and award nominations. It focused on artist-specific social media campaigns to market the platform and its new features to other upcoming artists.
  • The campaign went on to make use of Soundcloud's social media platform with the hashtag '#SCFIRST', which could be used by creators on the platform to also partake in the campaign. It integrated with Twitter and posted all the uploads with the hashtag. Soundcloud then randomly picked from the tweets to promote the artists to its social media followers.
  • The #SCFIRST brand-level social media marketing campaign was pivotal for Soundcloud, which was losing its appeal. This campaign, despite occurring 24 months ago, has relevance as it set the foundations for the second campaign, which built on the first. The connectivity warranted a reference to the first campaign, which enhances the understandability of this research.

The Fan-powered Campaign

  • The second campaign was powered by the fans to help identify new musicians and creators.
  • Billie Eilish was one artist that benefited from this campaign. During this campaign, fans utilized social media outlets like YouTube to craft short videos mentioning their favorite artists and why they are attracted to them. This campaign would feature top artists weekly.

Artist Specific Social Media Campaigns

  • Through First on Soundcloud, the platform is able to utilize artist specific social media campaigns involving various artists.
  • On September 23, 2019, Soundcloud uploaded a YouTube video under its 'First on Soundcloud' series to highlight the work of artist Lil Tecca, whose debut project titled 'We Love You Tecca' was released the previous month on Soundcloud. The same video was uploaded to Soundcloud's official Facebook page, while a shorter version was released on its Twitter account.
  • Soundcloud also featured the artist in an article uploaded through its blog, in which it encouraged readers to listen to his debut project via the streaming platform. The article also contained an interview with the artist.
  • Since his debut project's release on Soundcloud, the album has garnered around 54,500 likes and 3,060 reposts, while Lil Tecca has obtained about 349,000 followers on the platform.
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In the past 12 months, Genius has marketed itself through cross-channel marketing, visuals and user-generated content, search engines and ads, and collaborations and promo activities with artists and mobile app companies.

Cross-Channel Marketing

  • Genius maintains a significant social media presence on major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, which has allowed it to share posts and photos.
  • Genius engages its audience on social media platforms, where it enjoys a significant following of more than 1.54 million on Facebook, 2.8 million followers on Instagram, 7.55 million subscribers on YouTube, and 1.2 million followers on Twitter. On these social platforms, it presents news regarding artists.
  • Genius has integrated its website with a social media site to allow it to share marketing information with its audience.

Visuals and User-Generated Content

  • Genius utilizes user-generated content through photos, videos, and post on its social media platforms. It leverages brand-level social media campaigns via hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to market to its customers. For example, the Zaytoven hashtag and cross-channeling conducted through Instagram and Twitter on February 8, 2020, generated 3,703 views on Instagram alone.
  • It also utilizes artist-centered social media campaigns. For instance, the Instagram takeover by Childish Major through tagging and hashtags on February 8, 2020, resulted in 12,678 and 3,703, respectively, on each post.
  • Genius integrates visual representations with user-generated content as a marketing strategy. Video visuals and photo visuals are created to match the message being delivered accurately.

Search Engine

Collaboratives and Promo Activities

Research Strategy:

Since relevant information was unavailable via a direct search, we expanded our search beyond the company's website to include marketing reports, press releases, and media articles. This method only offered limited information. Therefore, we expanded our search beyond the 12-month span and obtained details on collaborations and promo activities. We also searched through the company's social media channels for marketing data.
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Young Thug: Overview

Young Thug released the original “So Much Fun” album on August 16, 2019, and the deluxe edition on December 20, 2019. “So Much Fun” featured collaborations with 14 different artists. Young Thug’s joint tour with Machine Gun Kelly, known as the “Justin Bieber Big” tour, lasted from September 30 to November 18, 2019.

New Music Releases

  • On May 23, 2019, Young Thug released a single called “The London.”
  • Young Thug released the “So Much Fun” album on August 16, 2019 via 300 Entertainment/Atlantic Recording Corporation.
  • “So Much Fun” features 19 songs, including “The London.”
  • On August 25, 2019, it was reported that “So Much Fun” had reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.
  • On December 20, 2019, Young Thug released a deluxe edition of “So Much Fun” that featured four new songs.

Tours/Live Performances

  • Young Thug’s Facebook page has listed 43 live performance dates from March 15 to November 18, 2019.
  • The majority of the live performance dates are part of Young Thug’s joint tour with Machine Gun Kelly, which lasted from September 30 to November 18, 2019.
  • The joint tour with Machine Gun Kelly is called the “Justin Bieber Big” tour, and merchandises that featured Justin Bieber were sold during the tour.


  • Young Thug has collaborated with artists such as Future (“Sup Mate”), Machine Gun Kelly (“Ecstasy”), Gunna (“Hot” and “Surf”), Lil Baby (“Bad Bad Bad”), Lil Uzi Vert (“What's the Move”), Lil Duke (“I Bought Her” and “Cartier Gucci Scarf”), 21 Savage & Doe boy (“I'm Scared”), Lil Keed (“Big Tipper”), Quavo (“Circle of Bosses”), Juice WRLD (“Mannequin Challenge”), NAV (“Boy Back”), and J. Cole & Travis Scott (“The London”) for the original “So Much Fun” album.
  • Two of the four new songs on the deluxe edition of “So Much Fun” featured collaborations with Gunna (“Diamonds”) and Travis Scott (“Hop Off a Jet”).
  • Over the past year, Young Thug has also featured on songs released by Lil Keed (“Proud of Me”), Ed Sheeran (“Feels”), Lil Nas X (“Old Town Road”), Post Malone (“Goodbyes”), and Trippie Redd (“YELL OH”).

Partnerships with Streaming Platforms

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Young Thug: Marketing

While Young Thug has pages across all major social media channels, he is not particularly active on most of them, posting most frequently on Instagram and relatively infrequently everywhere else. He does employ Instagram Live to livestream with fans, but has not participated in a Q&A in nearly a decade, and does not conduct any organized social media marketing campaigns, instead opting for piecemeal advertisements of new projects. Further findings regarding Young Thug's social media use and how he uses social media to market his music can be found below.

Young Thug's Social Media: Overview

  • Young Thug is active on Twitter and Instagram.
  • He also has a page on Facebook, though a comparison of this page and his Twitter and Instagram accounts suggests that the Facebook page is likely administered by Young Thug's team rather than Young Thug himself.
  • On Twitter, where he has 4.3 million followers, Young Thug posts relatively infrequently, averaging only a few tweets a month.
  • On Instagram, where he has 7.1 million followers, Young Thug tends to post more frequently, though still not prodigiously — rarely more than a few times per week.
  • Young Thug has only employed Instagram's IGTV video feature twice.
  • On Facebook, where his page has 2,231,615 followers and 2,227,767 likes, Young Thug (or whoever administers the page) posts very infrequently, generally only 1-3 times per month.
  • Young Thug does not appear to do social media Q&As, with the exception of a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) that actually took place before he became well-known.
  • Instagram's Instagram Live streaming feature is not preserved on the site itself, but a YouTube search reveals that Young Thug has utilized the service to live stream on numerous occasions.
  • Young Thug also has a Snapchat account, though, due to the nature of the platform, it is unclear how often he utilizes it.

Young Thug's Social Media Marketing

  • On Twitter, Young Thug (like many other artists) tends to pin a tweet advertising his most recently-released project. Currently, that is the deluxe version of his "So Much Fun" album.
  • When new music or music-related products (for example, music videos) are released, Young Thug tends to post a simple tweet stating that the product's name is "out now," with a relevant link.
  • Similar posts are made on his Facebook page, simply stating that a new music product has been released and including a link to the product.
  • On occasion, Young Thug advertises music-related events with simple tweets and infographics containing further information. Similar posts are occasionally made on his Facebook page.
  • He sometimes posts videos of his performances as a way of advertising both his live shows and the music itself.
  • Additionally, some of his posts describe new achievements reached by his musical output, like attaining platinum status, or returning to the Billboard 200.
  • Across all of his social media pages, Young Thug does not appear to conduct any coordinated marketing campaign. Rather, he tends to opt for piecemeal advertisements individually marketing new projects, like this Instagram post juxtaposing the standard and deluxe versions of his "So Much Fun" album for Christmas.
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Young Thug: Associates

Artists commonly associated with Young Thug include Rich Homie Quan, T.I., Gucci Mane, Jamie XX, Tyga, Travis Scott, and Calvin Harris.

Rich Homie Quan

  • Rich Homie Quan collaborated with Young Thug on the song, "Lifestyle," which is currently listed as Ranker users' number one favorite Young Thug song.
  • Rich Homie Quan is an American rapper who has a contract with Motown Records under Capitol.
  • His debut album was titled "Rich as in Spirit", which dropped in February 2017 and he has worked with producers Metro Boomin and Zaytoven, among others.


Gucci Mane

Jamie XX


Travis Scott

  • Travis Scott, along with Rich Homie Quan, collaborated with Young Thug on the song, "Mamacita," which is currently Ranker users' sixth-favorite Young Thug song.
  • Travis Scott is a pop rapper who has been deemed by hip-hop fans a "genre-transcending figure who can craft gorgeous rap songs with swaths of strings, synths and harmonica solos."
  • He has a Netflix documentary about him called "Look Mom I Can Fly," and he is also known for having dated reality star Kylie Jenner.
  • His most recent hit single is titled "Highest in the Room."

Calvin Harris

  • Calvin Harris, along with Pharrell William, collaborated with Young Thug on the song "Heatstroke," which is currently Ranker users' seventh-favorite Young Thug song.
  • Calvin Harris is a Scottish producer and DJ who is responsible for "radio-friendly, electronic dance crossover anthems such as 'Feel So Close,' 'This Is What You Came For,' 'Slide,' and 'One Kiss.'"
  • He won a Grammy in 2013 and "also broke Michael Jackson's record for the most U.K. Top Ten singles from one album" that same year.
  • Moreover, he has been named UK's highest earning DJ by Forbes.
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King Princess: Overview

On October 25, 2019, King Princess released her full-length debut album “Cheap Queen” via Zelig Records. King Princess has collaborated with Tobias Jesso Jr., Father John Misty, and Romy Madley Croft to produce selected songs on the “Cheap Queen” album. Over the past year, she has performed at major events such as Coachella, Glastonbury Festival, Lollapalooza, and others.

New Music Releases

  • King Princess released her full-length debut album “Cheap Queen” on October 25, 2019.
  • “Cheap Queen” features 13 songs.
  • It was released via Zelig Records, a label owned by Mark Ronson.
  • “Cheap Queen” is a term based on the drag culture, and the title track is “a tribute to her [King Princess’] squad, all cheap queens in their own right.”
  • “Ain't Together” has attracted over 3.3 million views on YouTube, making it the most popular song of the album based on the number of YouTube views.

Tours/Live Performances


  • On June 17, 2019, King Princess’ first collaborated with Mark Ronson to release a single called “Pieces of Us.”
  • On October 1, 2019, King Princess and Ronson released a cover of “Happy Together.”
  • King Princess worked with Tobias Jesso Jr. to write several songs on the “Cheap Queen” album, and Jesso Jr. also contributed backup vocals to the song “Isabel’s Moment.”
  • Father John Misty played drums on the song “Ain’t Together.”
  • King Princess and Romy Madley Croft of the xx co-wrote “Homegirl,” another song on the “Cheap Queen” album.

Partnerships with Streaming Platforms

  • Apple Music is the only streaming platform that King Princess has partnered with over the past year.
  • On July 25, 2019, King Princess provided a live performance at the Williamsburg Apple store as part of Apple Music’s Up Next Live concert series.
  • On Aug 5, 2019, Apple Music released six songs performed by King Princess at the Williamsburg Apple store as part of the Up Next Live EP series.
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King Princess: Marketing

King Princess markets her music on social media by sharing details about her tours, music release dates, and links to her live music sessions. She has a social media presence on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Social Media Accounts

Social Media Marketing

  • She uses her social media accounts to announce upcoming tours dates, music releases, live music sessions, and what's she doing behind the scenes.
  • She advertises her music related events with a simple caption accompanied by images with further details on the event.
  • On Twitter and Facebook, her top post is a pinned tweet and a post of a link to her latest album (Cheap Queen). While on Instagram, her profile header contains link to her latest singles.
  • King Princess sometimes posts videos of her performances as a way of advertising her live shows and music.
  • Using #askkingprincess, King Princess organized a live Q&A session, where her fans were afforded the opportunity to ask her personal and music related questions. Some of the questions concerning her music were on her preference for being in a studio writing songs over performing on stage and her favorite song to perform.
  • Another way she interacts with her fans is seeking their opinions on her songs release dates.
  • Some of her posts describe her musical achievements like being nominated for the GLAADawards, and announced as Twitter's #ArtistToFollow.
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RapCaviar: Overview

RapCaviar is a trend-setting Spotify playlist with a focus on hip-hop music. Known for creating hits and putting up-and-coming hip-hop artists on the map, RapCaviar owes much of its influence to longtime curator Tuma Basa, who left Spotify in 2018. Below is a brief overview of the playlist and its significance, followed by a discussion of its history and how it became so influential, and concluding with a survey of the playlist's social media activity within the past year.

RapCaviar: Overview

  • RapCaviar is a playlist on Spotify with a focus on hip-hop, and has been "hottest genre-specific playlist in the surging field of digital music curation" for several years. Today, it's the hottest playlist on Spotify, period.
  • The playlist is well-known for its hit-making potential. As music media outlet Genius remarked, RapCaviar was "partially responsible for the overnight success of artists like Lil Uzi Vert (whose daily Spotify streams leapt from 442,000 to over one million after strategic Rap Caviar placement), Rae Sremmurd, Migos and...Kyle."
  • Hit songs that owe their success at least partially to RapCaviar include Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles," Desiigner's "Panda," Migos's "Bad and Boujee," and Kyle's "I Spy."

RapCaviar's History and Influence

  • While the playlist has been part of the Spotify platform since 2014 (the platform itself first launched in 2008), RapCaviar began to take off in earnest when influential tastemaker Tuma Basa began curating it in 2015.
  • Incredibly, after Basa joined Spotify, RapCaviar gained 3 million new followers within weeks.
  • Basa brought a substantial amount of music and entertainment industry experience with him when he joined Spotify in 2015, having previously worked for rapper and executive Sean "Diddy" Combs, MTV, and BET.
  • Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek called Basa the platform's "resident genius in hip-hop," and during his Spotify tenure Basa was known to control "who becomes rap’s next superstars with a few clicks from his laptop."
  • By 2017, two years after Basa began curating RapCaviar, it was dubbed "the most influential playlist in music" by entertainment media outlet Vulture.
  • That same year, Spotify began expanding the RapCaviar brand, introducing live events that brought together artists featured on the playlist.
  • Basa left Spotify in 2018, joining YouTube as it launched its own music service. RapCaviar lives on, curated by Spotify's editorial team. Spotify claimed that the RapCaviar team was "rapidly expanding with boots on the ground globally" to maintain the playlist's quality in the wake of Basa's departure.
  • Reportedly, since Basa's departure, the "barrier for entry [onto the playlist] has lowered," despite the seemingly extensive effort on the part of Spotify to discover new and cutting-edge music.
  • While Basa no longer curates the playlist, his influence remains: today, RapCaviar has upwards of 25 million followers, the most of any Spotify playlist by a substantial margin (about 10 million more than the next-highest).
  • In 2019, primary Spotify competitor Apple Music launched an apparent competitor to RapCaviar, a playlist called Rap Life, which is overseen by another notable hip-hop tastemaker, Hot97 radio host Ebro Darden.

RapCaviar: Recent Social Media Promotion

  • RapCaviar does not appear to be active on Twitter or Facebook, but has a highly active Instagram page.
  • On a regular basis, RapCaviar creates an Instagram post with a hip-hop artist whose recently-released music is featured on the playlist. For example, rapper Joyner Lucas was featured in one of these recent posts.
  • On Fridays, when hip-hop artists tend to release new music, RapCaviar posts on Instagram featuring the artwork of a notable album released that week (for example, Mac Miller's posthumous Circles), and asks its followers to tag the artists they're listening to.
  • On occasion, RapCaviar posts a clip featuring an artist whose music is featured on the playlist (for example, rapper Peewee Longaway and Lil Mosey), simultaneously promoting the artist and the playlist.
  • To commemorate the New Year, RapCaviar posted videos portraying the best hip-hop albums of 2019 and of the 2010s, and analogous posts for songs of the year and of the decade.
  • At times, RapCaviar has also engaged its followers by asking them to participate in informal polls regarding the hip-hop scene, like which hip-hop artists more people should listen to.
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RapCaviar: Competitors

There are several rap playlists that are extremely influential in the rap industry today. As of 2020, some of the most popular playlists include "Who We Be", "Cali Fire", and "Lofi Hip Hop". Based on the number of followers, the Lofi Rap playlist seems to be the most popular. However, "Who We Be" has a much more extensive online presence, as it is not only a playlist but also a popular annual venue in the UK.

  • Who We Be.- This playlists has 587, 349 likes and is primarily featured on Spotify. They do not have a large social media presence on Facebook, but have 4,009 followers on their Instagram page. Who We Be is a live performance in the UK (in London) that has been consistently running for 4 years now.
  • Although Who We Be is a newer venue, and a smaller social media presence, there are several great reviews about the venue and the playlist. According to UpRoxx, this playlist mixes Rap with UK Grime.
  • Who We Be not only has over half a million followers, is led by Safiya Lambie-Knight, and features artists such as Aitch, Aystar, Doja Cat, Ellie Prohan, Octavian, Tian Wayne, and Zeph.
  • Cali Fire is another popular playlist on Spotify. This playlist has 618, 838 likes. This playlist is recommended by both UpRoxx and Redbull as a top Rap playlist.
  • CaliFire features G-Ezy and E-40, among a variety of other artists from the California coastline. Although this playlist has more followers than Who We Be, it has no social media presence. There is not an active Facebook or Instagram page for the playlist itself. However, this lack of social media presence seems to be due to the fact that this is an individual playlist that does not have a coinciding venue.
  • Artists such as SOB X RBE, IAMSU, 24kGoldn, and Juice have promoted their involvement with the playlist via Twitter.
  • Lofi Rap is a very influential rap playlist and currently has 1,067,479 followers. This playlist is brought to viewers by Italian producers Okho and Saito.
  • This playlist also lacks a social media presence on Facebook. There is however a mention of the playlist on Instagram by a popular Lofi Hip Hop account on Instagram. This account has over 109,000 followers. There do appear to be a few mentions of the playlist by random users on Twitter as well. Despite a lack of marketing campaigns and advertisements on social media, this playlist remains influential based on its number of followers.

Research Strategy

We began this research by searching for popular articles that would conclusively support some of the most popular rap playlists available today. Upon discovering that Spotify seems to host most of these popular playlists, we decided to stick specifically with that platform. Information on one of the playlists was widespread, so we included several resources with information on both that playlist and venue, including facts that support its popularity and influence.

Considerations also included an extensive search on social media across all major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. We conducted searches to determine whether each playlist had a large social media following and how that might contribute to influence. Finally, Spotify was used to gain insights into the exact amount of followers for each playlist.

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Hot Country: Overview

Hot Country is the "flagship country playlist" on the streaming platform Spotify. Hot Country's follower count totaled five million as of August 2018. The enthusiasm among country superstars for Hot Country's shift to including "original video content" featuring artists, in addition to music, has been an important part of the playlist's rise to becoming among the most-influential playlists.

Hot Country

1. What It Is

2. History/Key Milestones

3. Number of Followers

  • As of August 2018, the number of followers Spotify had for its Hot Country playlist totaled five million, which marked its all-time record.
  • Between August 2017 and August 2018, Hot Country achieved a 26% increase in its number of followers.
  • Also, as of August 2018, the average increase in followers per day for Hot Country was between approximately 2,000 and 3,000.

4. How/Why It Became One of the Most-Influential Playlists

  • Hot Country's switch to offering enhanced playlists was an important move in its rise to prominence.
  • Those "playlists combine music and video into a single view, allowing users to listen to their favorite audio tracks and to watch interviews and music videos from various artists. Playlists are constantly refreshed throughout the week, and every Friday new and original country video interviews are added."
  • Hot Country launched those enhanced playlists in the U.S., Canada, Spain, New Zealand, Latin American, and Sweden.
  • Country artists "really embraced" Hot Country's enhanced playlist concept and thus participated in it, including Kenny Chesney and Keither Urban.
  • Spotify's Head of Artist and Label Marketing in its Nashville office, Brittany Schaffer, commented on the influence of Hot Country's enhanced playlists in stating that "country artists have been craving the attention of the streaming services to help bring the country audience into streaming and craving a deeper ability to connect with and expand their audiences. The enhancement of the Hot Country playlist is Spotify’s first significant step in helping artists do just that."
  • Hot Country Live events have also been important to generating awareness about the playlist, as it's a national, "live concert series that . . . serve[s] as an extension of the" playlist. A key goal of the Hot Country Live concerts is to "bring country music fans even closer to their favorite artists." Furthermore, as a Spotify executive explained, Hot Country Live brings the Hot Country playlist "to life."
  • Keith Urban said that through the "Hot Country [enhanced] playlist[,] people will not only hear . . . [my new album], they’ll be able to come inside the studio with me and see a bit about the making of the album."

5. How It Has Recently Promoted Itself on Social Media

  • Instagram is the only social media channel that Hot Country uses. However, Spotify occasionally uses its Twitter and Facebook pages to promote its Hot Country playlist.
  • After searching the aforementioned social media channels, we didn't find any social media campaigns about Hot Country either within the past year or prior thereto. However, we found other, relevant information about how Hot Country promotes itself (and how Spotify promotes Hot Country) on social media, which is outlined below.
  • Almost every picture or video on Hot Country's Instagram features a country superstar or band. Many of the videos on Instagram are about country superstars sharing stories about themselves or performing.
  • Spotify uses its Twitter to promote Hot Country. One way Spotify does so is by using the hashtag #HotCountry and by posting videos, such as a behind-the-scenes videos with bands such as Lady Antebellum. Additionally, Spotify promotes Hot Country Live events on its Twitter.
  • Though Hot Country doesn't have its own Facebook page, Spotify uses its Facebook to promote Hot Country through individual posts.
  • A key part of Hot Country's messaging on social media includes the use of nudges such as "watch the full video" and "listen to" a particular song.
  • The messaging Hot Country frequently uses on its Instagram proposes questions such as "Who are you playing first?"
  • In addition to the previous information from within the past year, we found a very interesting example of how Hot Country promoted itself on social media in 2018, which we wanted to include because of its uniqueness. That example was that an artist created images of Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Kelsea Ballerini in cornfields as a way "to celebrate Spotify's Hot Country playlist," aerial photos of those images were taken, and then each artist posted his or her picture on Instagram without a caption.
  • In further regard to the cornfield marketing example, Spotify's label & artist marketer, Brittany Schaffer, said the following about that effort: "This year [2018,] Spotify is making a concentrated effort to shine a spotlight on country music and to find truly unexpected ways to celebrate all things country. To give our fans something special we decided to work with artist Stan Herd to bring to life three of the world’s biggest country artists on a beautiful Kansas landscape to pay homage to the Heartland and country music today."
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Hot Country: Competitors

Some of the most influential playlists in country music are Wild Country and New Boots, both of which have the most followers after Hot Country. Top Country Hits is also influential and reaches 68 million followers on Pandora. The playlists do not promote for themselves, however they are primarily promoted by featured artists and through social media outlets such as their Twitter pages. An overview and information regarding these influential playlists and their promotions are provided below.

Wild Country

  • Wild Country is an influential country playlist coming in second on Spotify after Hot Country with 787,000 followers. The playlist features 64 songs. Wild Country also has a playlist on YouTube that features 40 videos with 29,659 views and plays the top 40 country songs of the week.
  • The playlist is promoted on social media and on the postings of featured artists and their fans, and an example can be accessed here. Artist 17 Memphis provides another example of its promotion by featured artists.
  • Spotify launched RISE in 2017. RISE is an emerging artist program" that uses the platform's promotional resources for a handful of featured artists. The artist features also promote the playlists that they are featured on, an example of which can be accessed here.
  • Other forums such as Twitter are used promote artists and the playlists that they are featured on, an example of the Women of Country post giving a shout out to the duo Brown and Gray and including a link to the Wild Country playlist where their song can found.

New Boots

  • New Boots is the third most influential playlist also on the Spotify platform, with 654,000 followers.
  • Articles that interview past New Boots talent point to the platform as the credit to their success. Tyler Dial, one of many country artists that gained recognition through the platform, states that New Boots was also his way to find new country artists to listen to before they rocketed" and his goal was to get on the platform.
  • Featured artists such as Maddie and Tae promote the New Boots platform through social media postings, normally with links to direct fans and friends to the song on Spotify.

Top Country Hits

  • Pandora features artists, music related stories and posts on its social media pages, but there are no social media mentions of specific playlists. Additionally, the specific playlists do not have social media pages.
  • Artists that are featured in playlists on the platform are encouraged to promote their channels through social media channels. Kip Moore and Stoney LaRue are two examples of artists that promote the playlists on social media.

Playlist Platform Promotion Insights



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Streaming Audio Trends, Part 1

Trends in marketing audio streaming platforms are Data-Driven marketing, such as Spotify's #2018Wrapped, Music for every mood, and Nostalgia-Centric marketing, Such as Spotify's Listen Like You Used To and Amazon's Abbey Road 50th anniversary ad.


  • According to, the music streaming was dominated by a few companies, such as Spotify 36%, Apple Music 18%, Amazon 13%. Accounting for over half of the market, these three companies compete for the top spot. Through an exhaustive search on top 5 companies in the list and their marketing effort, we learned that each company has a very different approach in marketing, and Spotify campaigns most actively.

Big data Driven Ads

  • Spotify provides a platform for audio streaming. Since 2008, when it was launched, it has revolutionized the way people pay for music. The company currently has over 50 million tracks and 217 million monthly active listeners. Having over 200 million users enabled the company to run hugely successful marketing campaigns in the past few years.
  • Spotify identifies the use of memes as the best way to establish and connect with millennials and Gen Zs. The company placed several billboard ads that look like memes on social media platform with text saying:
  • Me: It's okay, the breakup was mutual. Also, me: Sad indie.
  • You: I want to give them a hint and not be subtle about it. Spotify: Wedding Bells.
  • You: I'm ironing but in the mood for solving crimes. Spotify : Over my dead body (Podcast).
  • The main message behind the campaign was Spotify understands you and has music or podcast for every mood.

Other ads and campaigns

    • Another successful campaign by Spotify, "#2018Wrapped," also utilized user data to connect with the uniquely, and it also helped Spotify to time their marketing messages just right. For example, Spotify posted a fan-made playlist statistic as a billboard ad says, '''God Is A Man' - 9 playlists vs. 'God Is A Woman' — 28,802 playlists — According to fan-made playlists."
    • Customer data-driven marketing campaigns or advertisements are counted as a trend because of the fact it was used in over several times in Spotify's campaigns such as 2018Wrapped, MUSIC FOR EVERY MOOD, Thanks, 2016. It's been weird. The main driver of the trend was Big data.

Nostalgia Marketing

Nostalgia-centric campaigns have proven to be effective with the millennial audience in the past few years, and many of dominant companies in other industries run the campaigns successfully, such as KFC bringing back Colonel Sanders, engaging millennial gamers with a new Nintendo console.
  • The first Amazon TV ad was launched for the new Amazon Music HD service. This was also done in conjunction with the release of Abbey Road on its 50th anniversary. To make sure that all details were historically right, Amazon consulted with the Beatles experts. The video features each instrument The Beatles used to record “Come Together” at Abbey Road Studios ⁠— including the band’s Neumann U48 microphone. Amazon also partnered with Neil Young to help promote its HD music service.
  • In 2019, Spotify launched a Nostalgia-centric campaign called — Listen Like You Used To. The campaign features a series of quirky, cultural creatives that hark back to well-loved music, targeting an audience of listeners who grew up from 1979 to 1999.
  • Two of the top three companies in the market launched ad or campaign around the Nostalgia-centric theme was what led us to conclude it was the trend in marketing audio streaming platforms in 2019. For Amazon's case, it went to great lengths to make it historically accurate, reveals that it is trying to tap into good old memories in the listeners.
  • The main driver of the trends is not clear to the market. According to Forbes, associating brand messaging with positive references from the 90s, 80s — and even the 70s — humanizes brands, forging meaningful connections between the past and present.

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Streaming Audio Trends, Part 2

With 180 million Americans streaming from various audio streaming services, audio streaming platforms have experienced significant growth in operation and subscription in the United States. Trends employed in marketing audio streaming platforms include strategic business partnerships and algorithm marketing. These insights will be gleaned from the 2 top (by monthly users) audio streaming companies: Apple Music and Spotify.

Strategic Business Partnerships

Brand partnerships have proved to be a successful way for brands coming together to mutually expand their market size and customer base, leverage on each other's brand awareness and equity and geographical reach. Both Spotify and Apple Music have used such partnerships to grow their brands and increase market share.


  • In 2011, Spotify partnered with Facebook to allow Spotify users to integrate their accounts with Spotify. This enables the users to play their favorite songs from Spotify's 30 million songs as they navigate through their Facebook feeds. This has proved to be a big win for Spotify as it served as a successful entry pathway into North America, increased its reach to include Facebook's billions of users as well as giving them yet another way to monetize their platform.
  • In 2014, Spotify and Uber partnered to give Uber clients the freedom to choose songs they'd like to listen to as they ride- an offer that persists to date. This gives Spotify access to Uber's 75 million riders and 3.5 million drivers who actively use the service. For Spotify, the deal encourages Uber's millions of users to start paying for premium Spotify accounts to further personalize their rides and gain full access to Spotify's full list of songs. Spotify's CEO noted that this partnership has given them exclusive access to one of the top three places that everyone regularly listens to music- cars.
  • In 2019, Spotify announced a partnership with Samsung, the world's largest producer of smartphones and 2nd only to Apple in the U.S., as Samsung's "go-to" music provider. This partnership has given Spotify access to Samsung's premium clients, who are more likely to buy their premium paid accounts, which account for 90% of Spotify's revenue.

Apple Music

  • Apple Music's first U.S. brand partnership was with the modern luxury house Alexander Wang. The partnership, focused on merging fashion and music, curated playlists that inspired the notable fashion designer. This partnership not only exposed Apple Music to Wang's millions of fans but also further enmeshed Apple Music as a luxury brand, thus increasing its brand awareness and chances of subscriptions among elite classes. Apple Music had achieved a similar feat with U.K. fashion powerhouses, Burberry and Farfetch, in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
  • Apple Music has also leveraged the star power of some of America's biggest music stars to market its brand and grow its revenues. Nicki Minaj has been breaking streaming records since she joined Apple Music's Beats 1 with her show, Queen Radio. This has afforded Apple Music access to Minaj's millions of fans on Instagram and Twitter, to whom she regularly advertises the show. Apple Music has also collaborated with Drake, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean to mention a few, for exclusives that are not only industry-firsts but also marketed their brand to the combined millions in following that these mega stars command on social media.
  • In 2019, Apple Music got into a partnership with American Airlines to offer its domestic customers the opportunity to listen to any of the 50 million songs offered on Apple Music. American Airlines is the first commercial airline in the U.S. to provide exclusive access to Apple Music. This partnership gives Apple Music access to over 145 million annual American Airlines domestic passengers. It also adds to Apple Music's brand credibility as it is now affiliated with the largest airline in the U.S. and the world.

Algorithm Marketing

An algorithm refers to a "sequence of steps or rules designed to produce a specific outcome from a set of inputs". In marketing, algorithms are a trend that has been used to do targeted marketing, come up with optimized campaign strategies as well as help pinpoint customer purchases to customer preferences, revealing profitable trends that both Spotify and Apple Music have maximized as part of their marketing strategy.


Apple Music

  • Apple Music's consultant Jimmy Iovine alluded to the company's use of algorithms as an effort to create "stuff that no one has seen coming". This marketing ploy, combined with Apple Music's commitment to engagement, has helped give them a competitive advantage in the market.
  • For instance, when rapper J. Cole launched his album KOD in May 2018, he received first-day streams of 64.5 million on Apple Music, 30 million streams higher than Spotify, Apple Music's biggest competitor. Algorithms show that rap music outperforms every other genre on Apple Music- intelligence that Apple Music has exploited in their favor in a bid to lure in more subscribers.
  • This has been further entrenched by Apple Music's access to user preferences and music lists from iTunes. Not only has this seen Apple Music algorithmically generate mixes for its users, but it has also built brand affinity as Apple Music users have reported that they find Apple Music fun and engaging, helping Apple Music win against the platform promiscuity experienced in this industry.

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From Part 01
  • "“And in a time when everyone has smartphones and people are sharing on social all the time, we actually think of out of home (ads) as potentially social media as well—only if you treat it as something that you’re not just trying to think of as an ad. You’re trying to entertain.”"
  • ""We hope we’ll remind people of the moments this decade that inspired them to smile, share, laugh - or sometimes just scratch their head. In many ways, it’s a campaign ten years in the making.”"
  • "Spotify closed 2019 with a positive quarter that saw it add 10 million new paying subscribers (126m) in addition to sowing the seeds of success in its podcasting business. "
  • "J Balvin, the most listened-to Latin artist on Spotify, with over 58.7 million monthly listeners, according to the streaming service;"
  • "The year closed with Spotify naming Sheeran’s “Shape of You” its most-streamed song of the decade: 2.3 billion streams, according to the service."
  • "Spotify has reported monthly active user growth of 30% year over year as of the third quarter in 2019 and, with a presence in 79 markets, Ostroff says the company is “enabling a borderless music ecosystem that’s allowing artists to connect with fans regardless of geography. We’ve found that more than 60% of Spotify users discovered an artist from a country outside of their own within the last month.”"
  • "Wrapped will use Spotify’s data and insights to celebrate the quirky and wonderful ways people worldwide have listened to their favourite music and podcasts since 2010."
  • "However, it’s worth noting that the change in our promotional strategy had a positive impact."
  • "Spotify for Artists: Launched the year-end “Artist Wrapped” campaign to drive engagement among existing Spotify for Artists users and acquire new ones. Artist Wrapped is the industry version of our consumer 2019 Wrapped campaign. It is a tailormade experience for artist teams that summarizes the highlights of their year on Spotify and how listeners engaged with their work. There are now over 500,000 monthly active artists and creators on Spotify for Artists, and we expect the platform to be the main entry point for most of our paid creator tools"
  • "826 € million sales and marketing expenses through December 31, 2019"
From Part 02
From Part 04
From Part 05
From Part 06
From Part 09
  • "“i was such a big fan of the original ‘high school musical’ movies. i think my entire generation grew up on the films” — @Olivia_Rodrigo on “all i want” full #verified episode ➡️ listen to the song on @applemusic : #AppleMusicXGenius"
  • "Genius has utilized user-generated content by sharing posts and photos created by consumers. User-generated content helps build a community around a brand by soliciting fans from artists. User-generated content can be used through hashtags, or tagging. In Fig. 1, Fig.2, Fig. 3, and Fig. 4, Genius has employed hashtag on artist specific media campaigns. "
  • "Cross-channel marketing: is the utilization of more than one channel to reach a particular audience. In this case genius is utilizing the basics like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach its audience by sharing a single post across all platforms. The screenshots below (Fig. 5 & Fig. 6) demonstrate the same. "
  • "1,540,901 people follow this"
  • "The Apple Music player feature is available on the Genius website (both desktop and iOS mobile web) and in its iOS app."
  • "Words in music move us—from sharing our heartbreak and longing to providing celebratory anthems—and the website that knows lyrics as well as anybody, Genius, is creating an experience inspired by some of the best songwriting around."
  • "Called Lyrics to Life, from March 2 to 5, music fans will be able to enter a space in the Arts District dedicated to lyrics. As you step into each room, you’ll find yourself surrounded by visual art pieces curated by collaborators including Devin Troy Strother, Peggy Noland, and Aminé."
  • "Companies like Genius and other such lyrics website depend on search engines like Google to send music lovers to the website who stock hard-to-decipher lyrics of hip-hop songs and other pop hits."
  • "The Wall Street Journal reports that Genius’ web traffic has dropped in recent years as Google has posted lyrics on its search results page in “information boxes” instead of routing users to lyric sites like Genius; in March, 62 percent of mobile searches on Google did not result in a click-through to another site."
  • "Genius has partnered with Acura for Precision Crafted Performances, a series of live showcases supporting emerging artists. At our second show—which took place on December 12 in Brooklyn, New York—Atlanta’s Childish Major played to a passionate crowd alongside co-headliner ​tobi lou."
  • "Genius is the world’s biggest collection of song lyrics and musical knowledge"
From Part 15
From Part 16
From Part 17
From Part 18
From Part 20