Your Business and Spotify: Using Music To Market

I’ll be the first to say I thought I was too old and uncool to use Spotify. Also, seeing my friends who have their accounts connected to the service, having people know what I was listening to sort of freaked me out.

Then, Spotify offered a $.99/month for three month trial. You know me, I’m a sucker for a deal.

Traditionally, when we talk about ‘content marketing’ we mean using pictures and text (and, if you’re ambitious, sometimes video) that you create to reach your customers. Increasingly, content is becoming more diverse: music, art, animated gifs… So Spotify is helping change the kind of content businesses can share easily with customers and potential customers. 

In this new world of online marketing, as more and more messages and platforms are needed, we don’t have time as businesses to make everything from scratch… so we’ve begun curating. Platforms like Pinterest and Spotify show that businesses can do marketing without making everything from scratch themselves but by curating something interesting.

In short, Spotify is a way for businesses to easily curate content.  Let’s look at a few ways this can be done.

Spotify Branded Playlist

The most popular type of content is the branded playlist. You have a user account as a brand and from there, you make playlists. We can look to early online adopters like Starbucks and Coca Cola for examples of this:


Now I know what you’re thinking, it must be pretty cool to make a playlist and your own little album cover and let people follow you. The ability to create a pretty playlist cover is only available to a few users, so the visuals of the first four songs added create the tiled artwork of most playlists:


(I tried to think of the most non-musical seeming service and boom, found a dentist office playlist… with 25 followers!)

In what may be the most hipster thing I’ve ever seen online, someone was complaining about this because they had some “uncool” song as one of their first four and they were ‘too embarrassed to even share it on Tumblr’. I had a chuckle at that but I understood the struggle.

Note: Searching Spotify from a computer is super annoying. This kind of works but best to do it from your phone:

That said, if you want to share a link to your playlist from your computer (because, let’s say you’re scheduling things on social media) here’s a way to do it:

Spotify And Targeting

As you can imagine, if you’re willing to pay Spotify some cash, you can target people based on their demographic information and more:

The Premium members (like myself for the moment) don’t hear ads but it seems like the average Spotify user spends 148 minutes a day on the platform so those who are on are really into it-meaning they are willing to put up with an ad here and there.

Spotify At Your Business Location

It may be natural to think of having a soundtrack for your brand that maybe plays at multiple business locations, events, and other locations where people experience your business (you know, without annoying ads and all that). That’s the goal behind Soundtrack Your Brand, but it doesn’t yet seem universally available but it’s only a matter of time for things to move from online to real life.

If you’d like to be an insider, Spotify has a Rock Star Program: Note that you can only join it if you’ve previously contributed to the community but perks include being among the first to try new features.

If you want to learn more about Spotify and your brand, I found this pretty comprehensive podcast (the show notes also link to resources). That’s right, I’m leaving you an audio resource about audio content:

PODCAST: How to enhance your small business brand with Spotify [Episode 6]

In short, Spotify is one way your brand can connect to people in a fun way. And maybe if you follow a Coca-Cola’s playlist, you’ll find yourself craving a coke a little more often.


So long, and thanks for all the ‘tunes


Dear Apple,

We had a good thing going — and I sincerely thought that you felt for me with the same undying love that I felt for you. It’s taken me a couple of years since we stopped seeing each other exclusively for me to cut through the haze of denial. But now I see the truth. You don’t feel for me the same as I felt for you. It’s OK, Apple. I realize, now that it’s time for me to start seeing other digital music players.

Fifteen or so years ago, in addition to being THE way to playback and organize my MP3s, iTunes served as a gateway for the iPod. My first was the third-generation, white and silver 15 gig iPod. And, just like that, my music was everywhere with me.

You have to understand that in the early ’00s, this was a rare and new phenomenon. Most of us were either jamming out to mix tapes or, if we were truly on the edge, were able to make a mix CD full of MP3s. But the idea of carrying around a music library with you, well, that was pretty shagadelic, if I may dust off a catchphrase of the era. Especially if you were a music lover. And I was certainly a music lover.

So along comes the landmark iTunes music store, offering a cheap alternative to Napster and other file-sharing sites of the era of questionable virtue. Now we can buy new, cool music legitimately. Of course, Apple really didn’t make money off that. But the store was a pretty cool way to drum up sales of iPods. And it worked too, especially after it was made compatible with Windows PCs.

Apple made being a music geek incredibly cool with a slick advertising campaign, and it seemed that earbuds began springing out of nearly everyone’s head.

So how did we come to this?

Personally, I blame the iPhone, its bastard offspring the iPod Touch, and the touchscreen interface. Because now you can do so much more — watch video, play a stupid games and post pics of every meal you’ve ever eaten to Instagram — on your portable device. Apple had a lot more gateways to its devices than just a stupid ol’ music player.

I also blame the rise of streaming services, which has skyrocketed in popularity as paid music downloads are going the way of CD sales.

Today, Apple’s music app is less about having a decent way to organize, play and shuffle all of your music. It’s now become dominated by ways to stream, buy and share.

With every iPod/iPhone update (and good lord there are a lot of them), the straight-up interface for playing music that resembled your dad’s hifi rack stereo components became more and more distant.

Apple’s music app doesn’t know what it is, and iTunes itself has morphed into some unholy media hub that’s less a digital jukebox and more of a “Game of Thrones” injection system.

Sadly, there are few alternatives to iTunes and the Music app, although Ecoute is a cheap alternative and as my primary music player on my iPhone, and I’ll likely start experimenting with I’m looking at Swinsian.

My new hope is to find my old monochrome iPod—the one that was built around music.

Until then, Apple, I’ll treasure our memories. I hope you find everything you’re looking for.


Tech Thursday: OGP

This week, we just have one question: You down with OGP?

Please enjoy this rap about microdata. Need a bit of background? See our previous serious video on microdata.

Lyrics and Rapping: Nicole Ouellette
Video capture and editing: Kassie Strout

Here are the full lyrics:

OGP, how can I say it
Take it like Facebook takes it
An online information system, I’ll explain it
O is for open
G is for graph
P is for protocol like how things work.
Together it’s internet two point oh, let me explain
Facebook invented this so when you share a link
Facebook’s prepared to know just what to think
Like if you have a song and want to say the album name
how long it lasts, and who the artist is
OGP let’s you put it in your code to tell it like it is

Get down with OGP
Facebook knows me
Get down with OGP
LinkedIn knows me
Get down with OGP
Websites know me
Come on come on let me show you what I’m talking about

I’m using OGP like a broader concept
Schema code’s the same idea but still a bit different yet
It’s a markup code that covers a few more things
Like has products and people settings
Have you ever see someone’s recipe in your Pinterest search
With a list of ingredients as part of the written work
Click their pin and you see their blog and all their creds
That’s data being collected and spread.
How does Google know I’m the Nicole Ouellette
that writes the articles on this very concept?
I had to add the markup code all up in my site
so search engines come index it and place nice.
You web types know what I’m getting at?
Think Google has the time to figure where you at?
Then you don’t understand what Moores law’s all about
The internet doubles every 5 years so stand out!
OGP and Schema also means when your friends share
Your website on a social media, the info follows them there
Microdata for social and search is what you gotta know, if your website’s gonna grow

Schema and OGP
Google knows me
Schema and OGP
Bing knows me
Schema and OGP
Yahoo knows me
Schema and OGP
Everybody knows me
Schema and OGP
The Internet knows me
Come on come on let me show you what I’m talking about

When I hear a brother talking metatags or keyword domains
I know his information is old like old school days
Doesn’t know search engines have changed the rules
Since ‘94 we’ve got lots more tools.
Knowing Schema and OGP can get your famous
No room for keyword stuffing SEO B.S.
If you want on-page optimization that plays by the rules
Those ignoring microdata are playing fools.
So whether your peeps are on their phones
Or sitting at their computer all alone
They look for information and OGP and Schema hook them up
And your website is what’s coming up.

Peace. Breaking Even represent. Old school’s cool for rapping but new school’s cool for websites.

A Playlist For My Dad: Four Years Later

Some Fridays on this blog, I write about whatever I want. Because I can. :^)

Happy Veteran’s Day! I am so proud of the people who have served and grateful that their sacrifices have made my life possible. Thank you, veterans.

I usually get a lot of condolences this day every year about my father so it’s natural to think he was a veteran. He was not, he just happened to have a fatal accident on Veteran’s Day four years ago. (You can read about it here if you want.)

I also blog about this every year (I’ve had this blog since before the accident even): (This one in particular gives a good back story and even has a picture of my dad in it.)
(I think I must have just ignored this last year because I can’t find the post!)

Part of the reason I think I do this is that I like to take some time on this date every year and think about my father. (I usually even try to do something he would have gotten a kick out of, like drink a red wine with an ice cube in it or have a frozen Snickers bar.)

And the other part of why I revisit this every year (and a less all-about-me reason) is that I somehow want to take the shame out of grief. As a society, we don’t grieve publicly so I’ve tried to do things like write about how I joined a support group and letting people in on what you shouldn’t say to someone who is grieving. I like to be public about it not because my struggle is somehow more important or difficult than anyone else’s but because I want people to know their feelings are normal and it’s ok to talk about them and otherwise deal with them.

This year, I thought I’d change up the format. Dad, this playlist is for you. (Well, more accurately it is for me about you.) Because music helps.

Father Daughter- Paul Simon
I could totally picture my dad saying ‘Trust your intuition, it’s just like going fishin’.” He was kind of cheesy… sort of like how I’m kind of cheesy.

Cap Enrage, Zachary Richard
In case you don’t speak French, this song is about a shipwreck and someone drowning, thinking of their loved ones and what they wish they could say: “I love you, I’ve never loved anyone as much as you.” It took me a couple years to be able to even be able to listen to this song again. (Song starts about one minute in)

Life Ain’t Always Beautiful, Gary Allen
I found this song after everything happened. It’s a good one and I bet my dad would have liked it too.

Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground, Willie Nelson
This is the song my sister and my father danced to at her wedding. We remember thinking it was a slightly odd choice I think (Dad’s idea) but reminds me of him whenever I hear it and ends up being quite fitting.

Stop This World, Diana Krall
The last Christmas he was around, I remember putting Diana Krall’s CD in my dad’s CD player and him realizing my taste in music didn’t totally stink. He made me copy a bunch of my CDs so he could listen to them in his truck.

Every Day, Stevie Nicks
The other day when I was running, this came on shuffle on my iPod. It made me smile and think of Dad so it is in the mix. (Stevie, you’re killing me by not letting me embed!)

I’m sure I’ll think of tons of other songs once I publish this. My dad loved 70s rock for example and I’m sure some Elton John or Janis Joplin song may come to mind at some point.

So if you are missing someone, I hope you take some time today and remember them, with music or otherwise. Losing someone requires a constant recovery process that is never quite over but we can take comfort in knowing we share it with many other people out there.

Anyone else have good songs to add to my playlist here? Maybe a good remembering someone song or something my dad would have gotten a kick out of (if you knew him that is)? 

Marketing Monday: Nike plus

Every Monday, we check out a cool new marketing technique used by an individual, business, or group. Want to be featured? Contact the BE Blog.
I’ve noticed my online friend Lynn Cyr (an artist among other things) has been posting her runs on Facebook via the Nike website. I clicked through to see the partnership with Nike and iPod that not only encourages people to work out but think about music at the same time. I asked Lynn a few questions about her running and how she uses her Nike+.
1. Do you have the special shoes with your Nike+ or do you just clip it on?

Lynn Cyr, artist/web developer/user of cool running technology

No, I don’t have the special shoes for it. They now sell clips that you can use, but when I started using my Nike+, there was no such thing. So I came across this blog post that showed how to attach it to any shoe… and that’s how I’ve done it since!
2. How long have you been using the Nike+? Do you feel this device has improved your workouts?
I got the device as a birthday gift (at my request!) from my husband in March 2008. I started using it the very next day! Before that, I never exercised… let alone RUN! As I went on my runs and saw some progress (faster pace, longer distances but same duration, etc…), it really got me hooked! I can honestly say without a doubt that this tiny device is what got me started as a Runner! I’ve used it fairly consistently ever since, except for breaks I would need to take because of injuries (bleh!!).
Not ONLY did it turn me into a Runner, but I even trained for my very first 1/2 Marathon that first year!! My friends in Quebec convinced me that I should train, even though I’d never run before (except for a 5K race I did like 15 years ago – and even *that* was a very short-lived period of running). I trained and trained, but didn’t end up racing, since I ended up with an injury (not related to running). But I did run my first 10K race in Boston, though!
3. What are your favorite workout songs to get you pumped to keep going?
I’m a Rock chick at heart, so I always go for the Hard Rock and Metal “screaming” songs. LOL!! Nothing whips your butt into shape like some metal rocker yelling in your ear! But I do mix it up a bit. I have a “Cardio Mix” playlist on my iPod, which is what I use to run. It includes Rock, Country, and even some Dance tunes. But still, my all-time favorite song that really gets me going is “Lose Yourself, by Eminem.

I see that you share your results on Facebook in addition to on the Nike site. Has this further motivated you? Do you think doing so has motivated others to get running?
Knowing others are “watching” me, so to speak, definitely helps. It doesn’t stop me from slacking off every once in a while, but seeing the comments and “Likes” after a run really make me feel good. It usually sets the tone for the rest of my day 🙂
As for motivating others, I can’t tell you how many times I get asked “So hey, what’s that Nike+ thing I keep seeing on your Wall”? After I tell them all about it, they’re all gung-ho and get one for themselves. I know at least 3 people for sure that bought one because of my direct recommendation!
5. Have you met other people from sharing the results on Nike’s website? (I’m always interested in how interactions in a specific arena like this translate into other interactions, online or in real life).
This, to me, is the best part of the Nike+ system!! It’s allowed me to meet so many folks online who share my passion for running!! A few of them have become Facebook friends too now… and in fact, I’m meeting one of my “Nike+ friends” in person NEXT WEEK for the first time!! I’m headed to Toronto to visit my family, and we’ll be getting together for lunch since she lives there too! We’re both really excited!

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Marketing Monday: Lil Wayne

Every Monday, I feature some cool marketing, be it something that a person, business, or organization is doing. Please tip me off if you have an idea of what the BE Blog could feature!

Lil Wayne, courtesy of NPR.

Except for listening to the rap/hip hop on occasion (usually while driving or on a treadmill), I hadn’t thought much about Lil Wayne until last week. The rapper was busted for having a concealed weapon, and while they had initially talked about him possibly going to jail for multiple years, it looks like he’s going there for a least one.

But this guy is no slacker. Here’s what Lil Wayne is doing right, post having done something wrong:

He recorded nine music videos in two days. According to a commenter on the NPR story, Elvis did the same thing before going into the Army.

He has twenty songs pre-recorded and ready to go. Yup, that’s an album’s worth. Sure, if some get leaked, he might have to think of more (the hype alone might be worth leaking a few on purpose) but all this groundwork is part of the plan. According to NPR:

“He has a label, Young Money Entertainment, that’s going to keep him front and center while he’s in jail. They are moving from their headquarters in New Orleans to New York, to be close to him while he’s at Rikers Island…His label has made every effort to make it seem like he isn’t gone while he’s actually gone. When he gets out, he may be bigger than he was when he left.”

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