One of the highlights of my trip to SxSW (South By Southwest Interactive Conference) this past weekend was to hear Christianne Harder of Fighting Irish Digital Media speak on the relationship that Notre Dame has established with the social media/music platform, Spotify.
Notre Dame & Spotify: Our Story, Our Playlist
Christianne Harder, Notre Dame Social Media Manager, was joined by Jordan Gremli, operations manager for Spotify.
So why did Notre Dame and Spotify decided to embark upon this journey together just one year ago?
Music and sports are very much connected. Do you remember the last time you went to the gym or went on a run and forgot your music? Was that workout dreadfully long without some tunes to push you through it? College athletics and music have a very similar relationship.
A year ago some of Christianne’s colleagues were at SxSW and met the staff from Spotify. Christianne was curious to see what could be created out of a relationship between Notre Dame and Spotify and that is how the journey began.
Think about all of the aspects of college athletics which are touched by music.
-The games themselves
A relationship between Notre Dame and Spotify’s music platform seemed to make a lot of sense.
There was the potential for a great deal of engagement. The opportunities were varied, filled with exciting content and with an end goal in mind.
Spotify was interested in creating a “gold standard” with which to show others how it’s done and to the show the impact of the “follow” (social) aspect of the platform.
They had individual athletes using the platform but no teams.
What made the usability of Spotify even easier was the new feature that you did not have to use it through Facebook, you could use it as a standalone application. Anyone can have their own “channel.”
The majority of Notre Dame’s fan base is in the 35-50 year old range and is typically slow adopters of social media. Notre Dame wanted something with low barriers of entry. Something that was easy to use for the late adopters of social media, but also something that had seamless integration with social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for the younger fan base. And, last but not least, a huge music library. And that formed the strategy of the Notre Dame – Spotify relationship.
Our Team, Our Story
Who tells the Notre Dame story? First and foremost, the national news media and then Notre Dame media relations. How do you change the perception from “Notre Dame,” the idea, to “Notre Dame,” the reality?
Trick Shot Monday was born. Trick Shot Monday was a great way to showcase the camaraderie of some of the private (and most of the time zany) moments shared by the team.
Following the success of Trick Shot Monday, they wanted to find a medium that was universal and that could not be “spun.” Music is not only universal; it’s authentic and captures the imagination.
The Spotify journey started from the bottom. The first playlist was a very basic playlist that would appeal to the entire fan base and included such staples as the Alma Mater, the Fight Song, and Crazy Train … songs the fans knew and could easily adapt to.
Then team playlists were started. The fencing team was the first team to sign on, followed by baseball, softball and it kept on rolling. Now 24 of the 26 teams at Notre Dame have a playlist on Spotify.
The playlist that brought Notre Dame national attention? … Coach Kelly’s playlist.
The media jumped all over Coach Kelly’s playlist. Suddenly all of Coach’s songs were under close scrutiny … “What is Coach Kelly thinking when he plays Rob Thomas’ Smooth?”
That’s when everyone took notice of the other playlists that Notre Dame had up.
Currently Notre Dame has over 85 playlists … teams, student groups, coaches, the boxing club, ND personalities, Lep Legion, special occasions. The group of playlists has over 40,000 Bit.ly clicks.
How do the playlists come to life?
The majority of the playlists are student-athlete generated. Fundamentally, ND wanted the playlists to be the student athletes sharing what they listen to. User generated content that Notre Dame fans and former student-athletes can listen to and use to enhance their experience of the various Notre Dame sports.
What other playlists does ND publish beside student-athlete submitted playlists?
There are special occasion playlists, for example the “Under the Lights” playlist for the Notre Dame vs. USC night football game. There are also some playlists that have been generated by using crowd-source techniques. The Ultimate ND Tailgating playlist was compiled by asking fans to message their favorite ND tailgating music.
The playlists generated by the Olympic sports are typically stagnant playlists. The football playlists are much more dynamic. There are currently 16 playlists for football.
Each playlist has branded images to go with them that are consistently branded across all social channels. This gives the ND playlists on Spotify a very credible look.
Let’s talk numbers. What is Spotify’s footprint?
A year ago Spotify had 18 million users … now they have 24 million users. They have a global audience, which is spread throughout 56 countries.
Notre Dame’s audience is older and Spotify has a younger audience. One of Notre Dame’s “end game” goals in working with Spotify is to try to reach a younger audience through the platform.
Did Notre Dame’s social experiment with Spotify work?
I think so. ND events that were promoted using Spotify got 44% more views than games where Spotify was not used. And in turn, they’ve also been able to reach a younger audience who will be around for many years.
Music and athletics really do go hand in hand.
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