Spotify continues to miss the mark… and I have a hunch that it’s because the PR and Crisis professionals that seem to be advising them are not utilizing the right kind of data – they are looking at ‘mentions’ instead of ‘meaning’ (see my Forbes article on this.)

NO EXECUTIVE in the modern world should operate without their finger on the pulse of culture and changing meaning.

First, let us begin at the most obvious place. If you’re a subscriber to our newsletter, you already know that we study ‘meaning’. If you are new to our newsletter, take a look at this article that explains the concept of meaning further.

Our machine analyzed the language consumers use around the broader context of “Joe Rogan” and “Spotify” and discovered that there is a small amount of shared meaning between the two cultures – less than 5% of the meanings are shared. [As a benchmark, note that “spotify” and “music” share 37% commonality in meanings.]

Is that surprising to you? Leave me a comment if so.

Furthermore, an examination of the motivational DNA behind the two cultures shows us that there is in fact a distinct set of meanings and motivations underpinning both cultures. The culture of “Joe Rogan” for example is driven by the motivation of wanting to seek ways to further validate one’s worldview or attach a sense of morality to the things we do or the decisions we make day to day.

The motivations around the culture of “Spotify” meanwhile are dominated by wanting to build emotional intelligence, sensitivity, and connection in society. Quite different from where Joe Rogan is pegged.

Is there any common ground between the two cultures?

Yes, there is. You might have already noticed it in the common motivations section of the screenshot above. The motivation that is shared between the two cultures is one of wanting to pursue what we love.

Having the room to pursue our passions and feel inspired day to day…that’s where the two worlds naturally collide.

Spotify might have missed a trick.

If the team had examined shared meanings, they would have identified the lens through which they need to approach the issue. But instead, it looks as though they are mired in ‘the what’ – too concerned with what people are talking about rather than asking what they really mean. When you get stuck with tactical inputs, it becomes very difficult to drive a strategic output.

Mess IN rarely equals clarity OUT.

This is why I firmly believe that anthropology isn’t just for research directors and practitioners of R&D and Insight. Every executive needs to learn to think through the anthro-lens. After all, they’re supposed to think strategically about issues, and not just react tactically with a new set of solutions each day.

Is it too late now?

I do not know – but the culture of “spotify” has fundamentally changed. The meanings around it have changed, and the saga has reignited other concerns that consumers already had about streaming services (and their tendency to compensate artists disproportionately). The Joe Rogan issue isn’t just going to impact Spotify as a business. It will also have an impact on other music streaming services and that’s why competitors should not look at this as just an opportune moment for them. There are risks that everyone in the industry will be exposed to and there is work to be done to overcome it.

What do you want to research today?