TicketManager | Downloading Lessons from Year One of Spotify’s FC Barcelona Partnership

A year ago there were multiple reasons to be skeptical of the four-year, $308 million partnership that was set to kick off between Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona and audio streaming service Spotify.

Under severe financial pressure, the club had agreed to put the audio streaming service’s name not only on the front of the playing jerseys and training shirts of its men’s and women’s teams, but also on its historic home venue, Camp Nou.

At an average of $77 million a year, Spotify appeared to have secured a genuine bargain. Now that it has concluded its first LaLiga season that remains the case, but in ways that go well beyond the kit and stadium branding opportunities.

The combination of a brand with no experience as a top-level sponsor and a club distracted by major monetary and administrative woes did not portend a partnership that would soon become a best-practice example, but Spotify and Barca have thus far proved the doubters wrong.

As a recent SportsPro article revealed, the two parties have much to be proud of after year one of the sponsorship, including:

  • The club’s willingness to be flexible and creative with partner benefits to accommodate Spotify’s need for what the company’s vice president of business development Marc Hazan described as a “true platform” that would showcase not only the Spotify brand, but also multiple artists across the club’s physical and digital assets.

A highlight of that activation plan came in October for the men’s El Clasico match with rival Real Madrid, when the Spotify jersey branding was switched out for the owl logo of Drake’s OVO fashion line to celebrate the artist becoming the first to reach 50 billion streams on the platform. Drake’s Instagram post revealing the jersey received more than 4.5 million likes. In addition, a Barca drawing to win a jersey, which was not put on sale, saw 72,000 registrations in the first 24 hours. “‘In the end that gives us qualitative leads,’ said Sergi Ricart, the club’s chief marketing and revenue officer. ‘Sixty percent were new [users] and the campaign was 100 percent organic.’”

In addition, as SportsPro reported, “more than 85 artists have now used the LED boards at the Nou Camp for promotional purposes and Spotify has also leveraged geotargeting technology to ensure that fans watching in specific countries are seeing promotions featuring artists relevant to that market.”

  • Both parties have been able to tap into new audiences. For Barca, the Spotify connection is helping the team make major inroads with Gen Z. One feature of the partnership is Spotify playlists from current and former players. Hazan estimated that half of all the downloads of those lists are from Gen Z users.

In an activation similar to the one with Drake, Barca featured the logo of Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía on its jerseys, which resulted in searches for the artist on Spotify rising “a couple of hundred percent,” according to Hazan. SportsPro also reported that “a TikTok video featuring Rosalía remixing the club’s anthem, which was posted on Barcelona’s account to promote the campaign, has now amassed 86 million views, further illustrating how Barca have been able to leverage Spotify’s relationship with its artists to better target Gen Z.”

  • The partners are sharing data for their mutual benefit. While Barca is gaining access to high quality first-party data, Hazan said the two are working on ways to overlay fan and customer insights to inform future activations. “What’s really interesting for us is understanding geo breakdowns, where the club’s fans sit and how we can work best to activate them to either showcase new artists or for users to discover Spotify for the first time,” he said.
  • Spotify is earning a return on its investment. The company reports that it is getting a bigger bang for its buck from the Barca activations compared to other promotions. Hazan said the Rosalía campaign was “arguably the largest piece of music marketing that we’ve done as a company and the fees that we’ve spent over and above the sponsorship fees were absolutely minimal.”