Sweden, come on. You were the most respected country in the world last year (Reputation Institute’s 2010 Country Reputation Study) and your progressive social model is world-renowned. You’ve already given us H&M, IKEA, Ingrid Bergman, and the addictive Millennium trilogy. You’ve produced so many musical talents (to name just a few: ABBA, Robyn, Tallest Man on Earth, and Peter Bjorn and John). There’s also the rumor that all your women resemble Anita Ekberg circa “La Dolce Vita.” To be fair, you have been associated with some negativity – backwards political parties, demoralizingly long dark winters, and a few cases of human trafficking.
And now your ingenious Spotify has arrived in U.S., leaving a buzz of social media in its wake?
All kidding aside, Sweden’s Spotify, a free (you can choose to pay a minimal monthly charge for streaming at a higher bit rate) peer-to-peer online music streaming service – with over 10 million listeners and growing rapidly – is no joke.
While there is certainly no shortage of “free” music streaming options or online music databases, Spotify’s service has been able to differentiate itself from the pack in Europe and looks to do the same in the U.S.
For one, its service translates across cultures – a ginormous database with instant access to any song you want to hear, on demand. Playlists can be quickly created and shared – and your music accessible from any computer you want. It is completely legal (there really is no point of illegal downloads anymore) and its design is clean and user-friendly.
A smattering of Spotify praise:
- With all its music in the cloud, it is truly a “Jukebox in the Sky.”
- One enthusiastic blogger says: “Think of it as though the entire iTunes Music Store were actually just your library, and that instead of the poorly designed mess that it is, imagine that it was refreshingly streamlined, fast, and easy to search and use.”
- The Boston Globe’s Hiawatha Bray today says Spotify is “the best service I’ve seen for turning music listening into a social activity.”
- The king of social networks himself (and Spotify partner) Mark Zuckerberg is on record as saying that the service is “so good.”
Strictly from a communications point of view, the Spotify roll out to the U.S. (Hello America) has generated buzz almost strictly through social media outlets. The company drove demand by being a bit mysterious, including invitation-only memberships. Partnering with other sites like Klout and Facebook added to the launch’s strength. Klout users with high scores were offered Spotify invites through its Perks program, and Facebook is partnering with Spotify to offer a Facebook streaming music app to users.
While Spotify is the most recent of Swedish standouts, I can attest that many of my favorite Swedish brands live up to the same standards. Reputation lessons I’ve gleaned from some of my favorite Swedish brands below:
Back up the “cool”, innovative factor with solid products. In the cases of H&M and IKEA, turn out consistently modern (even “designer”) products at closeout prices. Stick to what you do best – in Volvo’s case, this means tough, safe and dependable cards, with a dash of innovation. No reinventing the wheel (sorry, I had to). If it was good enough for Roger Moore, it’s good enough for me.
Being too cool for school is a good thing – when you can back it up.
Side note: Last August, I spent time in Gothenburg and the surrounding areas with a close Swedish friend of mine and her family. I’m happy to report that all of what I noted on Sweden in my first paragraph holds true – minus the negative aspects. I could go on and on about Sweden’s lifestyle, landscapes and people, but it’s best to discover for yourself.