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How to pick the right music streaming platform partner

The growing influx of music streaming platforms on mobile is requiring marketers to develop long-term advertising strategies that take into account the economic value of each customer and engage in cross-partnerships with an organic feel.

Apple?s foray into the competitive sector now places the technology conglomerate among several new and fan-favorite platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Soundcloud, iHeartRadio and Tidal. However, consumers are likely to select a platform in line with their music tastes, suggesting that teaming up with specific services catering to a particular demographic may lead to more return on investment than others.

?Various streaming services are better represented in different genres or types of releases, so users should poke around a bit to see where their tastes are best catered to, whether by catalogues of titles available, or by curated content (i.e. Spotify's app ecosystem, or Apple's Beats 1 DJ's),? said James McNally, director of business development at Fuzz Productions, Brooklyn, NY.

?For some users this may mean using one mainstream service (i.e. Spotify) for mainstream content and something less mainstream (i.e. Soundcloud) for more obscure music.?

The top players
Spotify, Soundcloud and Pandora have the advantage of being among the first music streaming services to successfully permeate the space, but are now being joined by a slew of other branded platforms. Spotify takes care to target consumers with mass market tastes, while Soundcloud focuses less on curation and more on individual exploration of lesser-known artists and styles.

Spotify may become an even more attractive platform for advertisers to target, thanks to its gradual evolution into a 24-hour entertainment destination that now offers more video and audio clips to consumers. While brands can surely roll out short commercials in between users? curated playlists, they may also tap the growing popularity of mobile video ads to target a millennial audience.

The service has also entered into a long-term partnership with Nike to integrate its running playlists into the Nike+ app.

However, marketers must ensure that they do not count out the streaming players garnering less attention than some of their cohorts when it comes to choosing an advertising platform.

?While Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music are garnering much media attention at the moment little attention is being paid to iHeart Radio,? said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile, New York. ?The iHeart streaming service has 70 million subscribers, though little is known about the number of active users the service has.

?While many hoped that Jay-Z?s app Tidal would become a fierce music streaming competitor the service has fallen dramatically short of that,? she said. ?The app?s market share is pitiable and its senior management has been undergoing endless turnover.?

Apple Music has likely chance of becoming the go-to platform for iOS users. Aside from Apple?s strong brand following and global marketing scale, the company has the ability to tap 800 million iTunes accounts.

If it is able to persuade even a small percentage of its iTunes customers to sign up for Apple Music, it may very well cement its status as the music streaming service to beat. Therefore, brands that seek to segment their audiences may do well to research which types of consumers are most likely to be iOS users.

Possible challenges
The sheer competitiveness in the sector poses the greatest challenge to music marketers and consumers alike. However, some of the caveats can be combated by selecting a platform whose users fit into the lifestyle of the brand.

For example, a brand with mass-market appeal such as Adidas would likely find success in joining forces with Apple Music or Spotify, due to their wide appeal and tendency to specialize in playlists containing the most popular current music.

Meanwhile, a marketer targeting a more segmented audience might do better teaming up with a service such as Soundcloud, which typically attracts consumers interested in experimental or indie tunes.

While smaller players who attempt to enter the sector will likely be pushed out by the larger services, music streaming can be a jackpot when approached correctly. Services? advances in personalization, coupled with wide selection, can easily serve customers with the type of content they are searching for.

Offering an interactive element or call-to-action during an advertisement playing on a streaming service can also ramp up customer engagement. As users of these platforms are generally long-term consumers, it is important to provide a cohesive strategy that keeps this in mind.

One-off audio or video spots may not yield the anticipated outcome. However, if customers are prompted to click-through to a microsite or receive a contest entry for interacting with an ad, they may be much more likely to participate in future marketing engagement.

?The biggest challenge that music streaming services will face in the coming months is defining a clear value proposition,? Ms. Lowy said. ?The music streaming playing field is getting fierce?with many new attempts to break in and gain market share.

?Pandora and Spotify have a tremendous advantage of speed to market,? she said. ?While many feel that consumer brand allegiance is harder to maintain in the modern day and that speed to market therefore isn?t as valuable, the concept doesn?t have the same application when it comes to streaming services.

?The fact that Pandora and Spotify have been around for 7+ years gives them a major competitive advantage in knowing how to serve their subscribers music they?ll like. Apple can tap into the history of music consumers bought on iTunes or listened to on the fairly new iTunes Radio; other than that it?s starting from scratch.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York