“Australia is a Testing Ground for Spotify Products”

Spotify Australia & New Zealand’s Managing Director Kate Vale has said the streaming giant often tests its products in Australia before a global roll-out.

“We try and use Australia as many times as we can, as kind of like a testing ground for many products within Spotify,” she said.

Vale was speaking to Kate Constantine (nee Edwards), CEO of local content company Kontended for its new weekly podcast Kontented Kollective.

While Vale wasn’t available to confirm which Spotify products were exclusively tested in Australia, were were among the first territories to receive Discover Weekly in mid-2015. The personalised playlist of music recommendations now has over 40 million users and has clocked up over 5 billion streams. In 2014 it also locally launched Emerge in Australia and New Zealand, its collaboration with IT coproration HP which allows users to rate artists.

Vale puts the local product testing down to her 30-strong team, who are based in Sydney.

“We have a great team here who are able to execute very well and very quickly,” she said. “And we have an awesome team that work collaboratively and cross-functionally well together.”

Vale noted the staff turnover in Australia is “incredibly low”, and cited the company’s office as one of the reasons.

“We foster this culture of fun and everyone works really hard, but you’ve got to enjoy what you do,” she said.

Spotify is known for its flexible stance on employee mobility. Vale herself is in the process of relocating to the US to run Australia and New Zealand’s operations out of Los Angeles. During her talk with Constantine she said she wants to employ people who aspire to work abroad.

“I know that Australia stands out on the global stage for Spotify. People do want to come and work here,” she said. “We’ve managed to get people in from our UK office, from our Swedish office, and at the same time I’ve managed to have people go to our London office, to our New York office…

“I’m a big believer that people should move and grow in their careers, and if they can do it within Spotify I’d prefer them to stay with us and grow with us than leave.”

In December Spotify increased its maternity and paternity leave policy by 20% for parents in Australia, giving all full timers six months parental leave on full pay. This is more than that offered by Google, Apple and YouTube.

Spotify is the world’s streaming leader with more than 35 million active paying users in its 59 markets; Australia boasts 3 million active users.

Vale’s podcast interview aligns with Spotify’s launch of two new radio shows: AM/PM and Secret Genius, both available as Spotify playlists. The move further places Spotify as a direct competitor to major radio stations, Apple Music’s Beats 1 and Pandora. In fact, as noted by Vale in her interview, Spotify is now the 4th largest radio station in the world.

“Our numbers are proving that they are up there and are as big as [radio numbers] are,” she said.

Vale also referred to recent research, commissioned by Spotify Australia, that found a lot of users on Spotify aren’t actually listening to radio.

“We’re proving… I think it was a 20% incremental reach if you’re on Spotify. So if an advertiser buys Spotify and radio, the uplift is 20%; you’re reaching an audience that is not on radio. The fact that we’ve been able to prove that now is huge.”

Echoing sentiments made by the heads of streaming’s local players, Vale said the 20 available streaming services in the local market are “just not sustainable” and will be cut to three or four survivors in the next two-to-three years.

“Ultimately there will be three or four players who will win and remain,” said Vale.

Listen to the full Kontented Kollective podcast interview here.

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