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Ride Snowboards, Line Skis and Napster partner for curated playlists, social contests

Napster will feature curated playlists throughout the course of the 2017 season and beyond, starting with a selection from Ride pro snowboarder Hana Beaman, and Line pro skier Eric Pollard. Napster is hoping its involvement in the partnership will help to progress its initiatives to impinge on the massive market share of its competitors, which include Spotify and Apple Music.

?Rhapsody acquired Napster in 2011, and the company formerly known as Rhapsody now identifies itself as Napster,? said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT, New York. ?Obviously Napster has name recognition, but the question is what kind of recognition. 

?For many, Napster brings up vague memories of early 2000's music piracy, and the now-laughable public debate around it (e.g. "You wouldn't download a car, would you?").  I wouldn't say this campaign is specifically aimed at reducing brand toxicity, but more of an attempt to re-establish legitimacy and relevance.?

Enthusiast marketing
Napster will release new playlists every other week, including music curated by Ride pros Jake Blauvelt, Dillon Ojo, Jake Welch, Danimals and Line pros Khai Krepela, Tom Wallisch and Will Wesson, with additional collaboration and promotions in the coming months.

The winter sports companies will also be ringing in the promotion with a monthly photo contest hosted on Instagram. To win a snowboard designed by RobinBankz, users can follow @RIDEsnowboards on Instagram and Facebook; To win a pair of custom Napster skis designed by Charlie Cultrara, follow @LINEskis on Instagram and Facebook.

Ride and Line fans can also enjoy a free 30-day trial of Napster.

?Experiential or themed playlists are popular for a few reasons: people are too busy to dig and discover new music, plus there are times we want to just ?set it and forget it,? Mr. McNally said. ?Napster is doing a good job by defining and engaging specific niches who care about music ? and taking it full circle with a Napster-branded ski giveaway that includes a popular ski brand and an influential athlete in the freeskiing space. 

?Playlists that are themed around niche communities (like freeskiing or snowboarding) certainly are marketing, with a very specific target audience.?

Streaming competition
Napster has started its climb back up to bringing its brand name back to widespread attention with small efforts, using promotions such as this one with Ride and Line to cater towards enthusiast groups with experiential marketing. The streaming service recently partnered with Lufthansa Airlines and, most interestingly, telecommunication giant Sprint to bring its listener network to customers on Sprint?s network (see story). 

The latter move may mark the beginnings of a major play or series of consolidations for Sprint, which also acquired 33 percent of Jay Z?s struggling Tidal last week in a deal that carries similar stipulations for both parties (see story).

?Does Napster have a chance against Spotify or Apple Music?? said Mr. McNally. ?That depends how you view the competition between these brands 

?In terms of pure subscribers, Napster is unlikely to unseat giants like Apple Music anytime soon (Napster has approximately 3.5 million subscribers compared to Apple's 20 million plus), but corporate muscle and size isn't the only factor in the success or failure of a streaming service, so while Napster is smaller, it could differentiate with a better product, and better engagement of audiences. 

?Still, Apple Music and Spotify are no slouch competitors, and each have aggressive content curation and marketing efforts underway.  It's a fairly volatile space where anything could happen, so while I don't think Napster will surpass it's bigger competition in size anytime soon, I would not count it out ? yet.?