Three things B2B brands can learn from music streaming services

Music streaming might seem as far from business-to-business (B2B) marketing as you can get. Different product, different demographics, different, well, everything. And with Spotify boasting 159 million monthly active users and Apple Music touting 40 million paying subscribers, the massive influence of these music behemoths can feel out of reach to B2B brands.

But there’s really no difference between selling a song and selling a service. In fact, B2B marketers could learn a lot from the way music streaming services monetize, offer content and keep users engaged.

1. Get freemium

Most music platforms have “free” offerings that come with a catch, such as exposure to advertising or pushing exclusive premium content. B2B brands should take note.

Try teasing the value of your gated asset with high-value ungated content. Even reference it to fish for clicks up front. When The Weather Company approached us to build an interactive experience that promoted its “Just add weather” report, we built in animations that teased the paper’s most interesting points early on.

Next, consider where you’re putting your gate. A pop-up a few scrolls down gives a peek at the article and creates intrigue, just like when you hear a 15-second sample of a song. Dangling the carrot, rather than hiding it altogether, is more likely to entice a user to register.

2. Take it personal

Thanks to data-rich algorithms that learn from listener preferences, music streaming brands have taken personalization to new levels. This improves the user experience, which keeps people listening longer. And the more time a user spends on your platform, the less time they’re giving up to your competitors.

It seems obvious that B2B brands should be using the same mindset, but they rarely do. One Accenture study states that 48% of customers were disappointed when brands didn’t offer personalized experiences. So if you have the data, make sure you use it.

In 2017, IBM and Wimbledon delivered the award-winning #WhatMakesGreat campaign. Behind the scenes, we helped IBM mine 22 years’ worth of data and pin down six key debates that fans would relate to. The data-centric approach gained attention: 2 million people engaged with the wider campaign, including Marion Bartoli – a nine-times Wimbledon singles champion. IBM knew its tennis audience and customized the campaign accordingly.

With IBMers amplifying the content, the business audience also took notice. There was a 22% rise in familiarity with IBM Watson, and a further 22% increase of individuals recommending or talking about IBM. The chatter transformed into hard business advantage with the campaign paying for itself within three weeks.

3. Lower the barrier

Spotify allows users to effortlessly register through universal logins (using Google and Facebook). Compare that to the 15-field forms some B2B marketers force on customers; Spotify’s approach is much more enticing.

Consider rethinking long-form registration and opt for something speedier that fast-tracks customers to the content. LinkedIn AutoFill can reduce the barrier to a single click.

Aim high

Most importantly, remember your B2B customer is also engaging with B2C experiences. They might be making one-click purchases on Amazon, engaging with personalized online shopping platforms and streaming their SoundCloud playlist all at once. They’re going to expect the same level of personalization and ease of use whether they’re looking for a Cardi B track or a marketing automation platform. As B2B marketers, we must continue to evolve and learn from other industries. And music is a great place to start.


  • B2B
  • Music
  • Content marketing