Psychological Reactance: Background music when promoting Spotify brand and consumer behaviour
Leguizamón Maurette, Juan Martín
Thesis degree name:
Master in Management + Analytics
During the 21st century, the way in which music is commercialized and consumed has been completely reshaped. In light of the technological advances taking place during the last decades, music consumption has become ubiquitous, and people can now listen to their favorite artists at the same time they perform multiple activities. This translated to hundreds of millions of people listening to music every day, as well as an intense competition between digital platforms providing audio streaming services. Of these platforms, Spotify appears as one of the leading companies, with a total of 345 million active users and 155 million paid subscribers. Spotify's business model, defined as freemium, combines a paid service, unlimited and free of interruptions, with a free one, which offers the same functions as the paid service but with lower audio quality and ad interruptions. These announcements are formed by background music and a voice over promoting the paid service. The core motivation of the present study is to shed light upon the effects of the election of background music when promoting the Spotify brand. Is it beneficial for the company to use background music that the user isn't accustomed to listening in order to catch her attention and persuade her to go premium? Or will this approach generate Psychological Reactance (i.e., an "unpleasant motivational arousal that emerges when people experience a threat to or loss of their free behaviors", Steindl, Jonas, Traut-Mattausch, Sittenthaler & Greenber, 2015) in the consumer, undermining her willingness to go premium and her behavioral intention towards the brand? Although the literature on Reactance is vaste, there is no evidence of empirical studies testing the effectiveness of audio advertising interruptions in the context of a music streaming service. Particularly, we suggest a combined approach to detect "opposite" music genres to be used as background music in a simulacrum of an audio streaming company providing it's service. By means of a K-means clustering and an experimental pretest, we identified Rock and Reggaeton as the most different/opposite music genres as perceived by the consumers. Later, we created a fictional company and ran an experiment (N = 150) where respondents had to listen to a succession of songs from their preferred music genre to be interrupted with an ad containing either no background music, background music from the same genre, or background music from the opposite genre in the tuple. From the main experiment, we concluded that for the Reggaeton sample, the assignment of people to the experimental groups had a significant effect in user's Behavioral Intention towards the brand (i.e., people's disposition to consider the company when subscribing to an audio streaming service) and in overall feelings of Reactance.