F#, a fairly new "digital music advertising" firm, has done a lot of interesting work connecting brands and music often through innovative use of Spotify playlists. Today they're releasing some new ad products that build on that work, for example a "crowdsourced playlist." These products will be available to advertisers using an API or a self-service option. But F#'s big news is the launch of their new sponsored music player which comes in standard ad units and is embeddable by fans. Brands sponsor the players which can feature music licensed with a web radio model or directly licensed music for more particular choices.
F# was founded in February 2012 with a focus on bringing music to online advertising. I spoke with CEO Dan Merritts and COO Pete Jimison yesterday about the new products and how they fit into what the company's achieved.
Much of their work to date has utilized Spotify playlists but what they do is much more than simply creating a themed, branded playlist. Though we didn't discuss the choice, F#'s work reveals one of the great strengths of Spotify in the sweet spot between the depth of their catalog and their encouragement of its use.
AdPlayer: A Branded Music Player That's Also An Ad Unit
Both Dan Merritts and Pete Jimison emphasized the importance of their new AdPlayer, which is designed as a standard IAB ad unit, in expanding what they're doing.
The AdPlayer features both graphics and a music player with two options for licensing music:
"Exclusive Music – Brands and labels can select the perfect songs they have rights to – including exclusive songs not available anywhere else or an entire playlist – and feature them in the AdPlayer."
"Sponsored Radio – AdPlayer uses F# Music Intelligence to develop a sponsored, DMCA compliant radio with brand-targeted music. F# and its partners handle the music royalties, so brands can stay focused on integrating the AdPlayer into their campaigns."
In the case of Exclusive Music, artists are given what was described as a "revshare," an additional chunk of revenue negotiated upfront.
Because the AdPlayer is a standard ad unit, it can be distributed wherever ads are found, i.e., all over the place.
The AdPlayer can also pop-out and be played separately while the listener browses elsewhere. It can be added to one's Facebook feed (as shown above) or even embedded by a fan on their blog.
So the AdPlayer offers a potentially powerful combination of content-based advertising that is then shareable across the web and accessible across devices. Of course, it's the brand's choice of which of these options will be made available for any particular campaign.
F# Platform: Create "Spotify Ad Experiences"
The AdPlayer opens up a lot of new territory for F#. But their development of a serve yourself ad platform for their Spotify-related ad products opens their services to a potentially wider range of clients.
Dan Merritts and Pete Jimison explained that they began F# with bespoke services customized for each brand in order to seek a product/market fit. A customized approach gave them the opportunity to rapidly iterate through concepts to see what worked best. They then productized those best ideas which now makes it possible to launch a serve yourself platform.
The F# Platform is designed to allow advertisers to create branded Spotify playlists with a variety of related features.
Newly introduced ad products available on the F# Platform offer such possibilities as crowdsourcing playlists over time or updating playlists with new songs and branded content.
As the official announcement states:
"Companies can easily create their own Spotify ad experiences using F#’s API offering or on the F# Platform. The SaaS-based F# Platform allows anyone to upload design assets to create their own ads for Spotify, Facebook and microsites in a Do-It-Yourself manner. The F# Platform removes the need for costly and time-consuming development resources and can complete an ad ten times faster than through traditional routes."
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.