Songs that trend on Reels automatically get into playlists on Spotify: Arjun Kolady, Spotify India

Paawan Sunam
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Songs that trend on Reels automatically get into playlists on Spotify: Arjun Kolady, Spotify India

Arjun Kolady, Spotify India, discusses ad formats on the audio platform and the impact of social media trends on consumption patterns, and more.

The short-video format has transformed the music industry and the social media ecosystem. As a result, consumption on audio platforms has experienced an upsurge because of getting popularized on Reels, and Shorts, and in several cases, it has been the other way around.

For instance, GRWM (Get Ready With Me) a popular social media trend, also has a playlist themed around it called Get Ready With Music, with which users can set a soundtrack to their dress-up time.

Sharing some insights on the overall impact of the short-video format on social media, and what brands could do in terms of topical relevance, Arjun Kolady, Head of Sales, Spotify India, shares that it goes both ways. What happens in the real world, he explained, will reflect on Spotify, and what happens on Spotify will sort of reflect in the real world. 


He shares, "When Money Heist dropped on Netflix, the searches for Bella Ciao on Spotify went up by an estimate of 5,000%. That's a very popular track on that show. Everybody wants to know what it is".

"We also see a lot of songs that trend on Reels automatically get into playlists on Spotify. So you may discover a song and share it to social media or you may be scrolling through short video platforms and say this is a cool song and come look for it on Spotify", he adds.

Arjun Kolady adds that there is a playlist called Viral Hits, which is about all of these songs, and that had 111% growth last year, year-on-year. "All of this gives you indications of how that sharing actually works".

Recalling the pandemic days, he mentioned, "People were making playlists of songs to listen to when they are going to get vaccinated, and songs to listen to when they're coming back from it".

Sharing more examples, he mentions the Suez Canal topical moment that created a stir on social media also added a playlist to its name, and the songs were themed around what would you listen to if your ship was stuck. "Somebody who was on that ship actually listened to one of those playlists that was made", says Arjun.

Audio is surrounded by experience on Spotify. It isn't just around one mood, playlists have become more specific. "It's what we like to call is Soundtracks For Life. Whatever moment you are in, there is something that audio can soundtrack in some way, which is why we see cross-pollination happening a lot".

He further explains that a lot of these moments may or may not originate on the platform, but "Spotify is a very key part of that moment. The driving moment, the fitness moment, getting ready, gaming moment, so there are so many moments where people are doing whatever they're doing, but we power that moment and make it a lot better, and so that translates right".

Short video apps shape music trends

The advent of short-video formats and platforms has had a significant impact on the music industry. We have observed several songs designed to accommodate dance challenges and composed in that manner, and we also come across several songs by artists that were popularized by short video apps were later featured in movies. Arjun says that it has also played a significant role in improving artists' discoverability as an added platform, along with Spotify.

Also Read: Reelification of the Indian music industry – The good, bad & ugly

He also mentions that adding music produced by the brand to the Spotify platform would enable users to reach that music in the moment they come look for it. Because "actual consumption happens on Spotify".

"You're listening for five or 10 seconds then, but if you like the song, the six minutes of playing happens here. So it's important for branded content specifically to be available wherever the consumers will be" Arjun shares.

He further discusses activations such as a scannable QR code of a song by Pepsi, "You could scan the code from the camera within Spotify app and it will automatically load the song".

Ad Formats On Audio

In-stream ads are what we're all familiar with, but brands have also been experimenting with branded content on audio in various ways. For instance, creating an album produced from natural elements on Earth Day, or creating a podcast series, Arjun states that brands can experiment fundamentally with audio-video display. "This is the core of our advertising experience". 

There are audio ads with the companion banner that run in-stream (in between songs), and there are non-skippable in-stream video ads. There are two kinds of video ads - regular video ads and sponsored sessions, when listeners watch a video, they get 30 minutes of ad-free music in return as an incentive. Full-screen display ads are another ad format available.

Sponsored playlists also enable brands to associate with signature playlists. He shares that this ad format has helped brands find value in terms of business. He shares an example of a health supplement brand.

"They understood that when you're in the gym, you don't have any screens you look at, but you have headphones on. So they identified which were the most popular playlists that people listened to in India when listeners were working out. This means if a user listened to that playlist, all the ads in every outbreak would actually belong to optimum nutrition," says Arjun.

Advanced advertising is also supported on the platform with Spotify API, which brands such as Mondelez, Netflix, and Intel have engaged in. This requires extensive technical production and is usually done once or twice a quarter, adds Arjun. Later, Spotify Audience Network also comes into play when opened up for the market.

Using audio advertising cleverly

People should approach Spotify just like they do a YouTube channel or a Twitter handle but make it more meaningful. "You can't just make three playlists and say chamatkar hoga. You have to figure out a way to constantly engage with your audience. Keep those playlists and that content fresh and updated, which is a big responsibility".

"There are some brands that already have music as part of their core DNA. So you look at the Nike profile on Spotify, and you will find like 300 playlists because it's fulfilling a purpose. Or if you go to Netflix and look at their brand profile, they'll have the soundtracks of all of their shows and podcasts about the shows. The same is true for Coca-Cola, Budweiser, or Levi's, all of these are brands that have music in their DNA".

Apart from that, podcasts are the safest options for brands. In that format, "you have to do a really non-boring podcast. It is very easy to just say, I'll interview my CEO and 10 people and that's my podcast, but people need to have a reason to listen to it."

Arjun Kolady suggests that first brands can experiment with advertising and media options and understand consumer behavior, understand what role audio plays in their overall media base. Then take a call about whether it is something they should invest in the long term, from creating it as a channel point of view "where you will make your own profile and curate your own playlists, and share all of that on social media. You will become a music influencer or an audio influencer in some way. I feel that's step two, and it's very dangerous for brands to straight away go to step two because consumers are smart. Start from consumer insight. Have a great idea. use media to deliver that idea to the consumers, measure the impact and outcome of that and then take a call on the long term".

audio advertising Arjun Kolady Spotify audio consumption trends spotify advertising