'Every day is like Sunday': how Spotify listening habits changed in lockdown

Sleep, cooking, housework, well-being and yoga playlists are all popular on music-streaming platform.

Spotify: has seen listening increase across devices (Getty Images)
Spotify: has seen listening increase across devices (Getty Images)

"Every day is like Sunday," Marco Bertozzi, vice-president, EMEA sales and multi-market sales at Spotify, said, explaining how listening on the platform has changed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

"There’s a remarkable similarity between weekends and weekday," Bertozzi said. "The majority of people are staying at home, so we are seeing these shifts in how people are listening and what people are listening on."

There is "a lot more usage on connected devices outside of mobile – we haven’t got the commute any more – so we’re seeing people listening across connected TVs, connected speakers, gaming consoles like PlayStations and Xboxes, and good, old desktop because so many people are working from home".

Bertozzi added that "we’re starting to see a shift in subject matter" in terms of listening habits as users seek out "feel-good" music content and podcasts.

"We’re seeing that shift to much more people living their lives – listening to different playlists like ‘Throwback Thursday’-type playlists and feel-good environments," he said.

Sleep, cooking, housework, well-being and yoga playlists are all popular: "It’s really reflecting what they are doing at any given time."

In the early weeks of the crisis, users did consume a lot of "Covid and corona-related podcasts", but that has shifted. There is a "big emphasis on family, kids, comedy", Bertozzi noted, adding: "We are encouraging advertisers to work within those positive, feel-good environments."

Spotify gets 90% of its revenue from paying subscribers and about 10% from its advertising-supported business, which is free and has a larger user base.

Brands are being creative, Bertozzi said, pointing to how Amstel created a "Keeping the spirit of the bar alive" playlist that featured the background sounds of bars and restaurants in Spain for consumers who were missing going out.

Other brands to use Spotify during lockdown include Tesco, which has run "Think before you click", a postcode-targeted campaign with two messages to support recruitment of drivers and encourage people to head to their local stores, and drinks brand Rubicon, which targeted people listening to "out of the ordinary" playlists at home, via a homepage takeover on desktop.

Bertozzi declined to comment on ad sales or whether the amount of listening time on the platform has changed.

He urged brands and agencies to focus on context and "get back to good, old-fashioned strategic comms planning" in terms of targeting audiences.

From linear to on-demand

Spotify told investors on its latest earnings call that its global ad sales suffered a "deceleration" in the last three weeks of March and were "more than 20%" below its forecasts.

"Previously booked business was cancelled or paused, and programmatic buyers pulled back spend," Spotify said, adding that it has revised its forecasts for the rest of 2020.

However, Daniel Ek, the founder, told investors that the disruption to consumers’ habits should help Spotify. 

"The trend line of moving from linear" platforms such as radio to "on-demand will likely be accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis", he said.

Ek also predicted that "our advertisers will shift from pure reach to more measurable ad formats", adding that digital ads are "obviously a lot better compared to analogue ad formats".

Spotify’s total revenue in the UK, its biggest market after the US, still rose 22% to €201m (£176m) in the first quarter.

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