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Former Gap CMO on How His Fashion Marketing Experience Will Influence Spotify

Seth Farbman wants to make streaming app indispensable for music fans

Music and fashion share cultural relevance, says Spotify CMO Seth Farbman. Photo: Winnie Au


Specs
Who Seth Farbman
Current gig CMO at Spotify and CLIO Image Awards juror
Previous gig CMO at Gap
Age 46

What transfers over from marketing a fashion brand to a music streaming company?
Cultural relevance. When people make choices on what to wear, they are connecting to what makes them feel most themselves, but also part of something bigger. Music is a currency that you share with others; it's how you express yourself. That's the same as fashion. Spotify, in addition to allowing you to consume and enjoy music on your own, allows you to share it. That's the beauty of it.

Is there millennial crossover between the two brands?
One-hundred percent. When I went to Gap four-and-a-half years ago, one of the main objectives was to shift marketing and then, over time, the customer base to be more millennial-focused. It's a huge generational moment in terms of numbers. Highly connected, extremely valuable, etcetera. That is the focus here at Spotify and will continue to be. There is certainly that connection. One of the ways that I connected the Gap brand to millennial consumers was through music. Here it's the same but extremely direct.

Why do you think targeting consumers through music is so effective?
Music touches people in a very meaningful way. We share through music. It's how we connect with each other, and it puts people in a positive state of mind. As a marketer, it's not just about reaching someone with a message, it's about reaching somebody with a message when they are most comfortable and open and, quite honestly, happy and optimistic.

What are some of the challenges you will face? Can you talk about Tidal?
This is an industry that is heating up so much so that others want to enter the market, like Tidal and others. Consumers are going to have more choices. We feel incredibly confident in what we've built and what we can build in the future, but it's going to require that we are very specific and very clear on the benefits. Tidal is by artists and for artists. They've been really clear that's what they want to stand for. We're a little different. We're for music fans and by music fans.

So will you be hanging out with artists?
I'm thrilled to continue to be that close to creators. Being in a creative environment with creators, that's so inspiring and terrific. What's a bit different for me and what I'm excited about is to be so close to product and product development and be able to represent the customer, the music fan, so that the things we are developing make their experience that much better.

Are there new partnerships between Spotify and other brands we should know about?
There are, [and] there are more coming. We're still working through most of them. In a month or so we'll have more news to share, so we'll have to come back to you on that. Step one is to provide real clarity about what Spotify is, how it makes you feel and how we're different. Step two is to get the product and that message in front of far more people. The rest should take care of itself.

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