What is love? Spotify's Valentine Matchmaker finds out

profile picture

Justin Strategy Project Manager

18 Mar 2016  ·  4 min read

Music as the spark for a romantic match: it’s certainly not a bad idea.


As a little seasonal promotion for Valentine’s day, the giant music streaming service Spotify decided to play musical matchmaker for the advertising agencies they work with. A web app asks these agencies’ employees for their musical preferences, and matches them with a suitable partner.

The microsite we built together with Spotify in 2015 was quite a success, so we decided to do it again this year, with a fresh design and some technical tweaks. Oh, and because they had gotten so many requests from their American and Canadian agencies after last year’s edition, Spotify Canada and Spotify USA decided to add those partners to the mix as well.

Calculating love

So how does it work? There are a few obvious first screens, where users select their country and the agency they work for, and make a quick account with their name, gender and a profile picture.

After this, we go to the meat of the app. People are led through a series of simple questions to determine their musical taste; they can quickly and easily pick the artists they like best and the ones that make them hit the forward button, and are then given sets of two artists out of which they have to choose one. This information is fed into our custom-built Dynamo DB algorithm, which calculates the actual matches. This algorithm is different from the one we used last year – it allows us to work more flexibly and scales more easily to the amount of matches it needs to make at any given moment.

Compared to last year, we made sure to pay extra attention to making the entire animated module work flawlessly on all devices, and it paid off: 23% of our users were on mobile devices, a lot more than last year.

Some Spotify Valentine Music Matchmaker data.

Balancing time zones

Of course, the international use of this second edition of the Spotify Valentine platform meant we had to account for another challenge: offering adequate rollout and support in different time zones.

The web app rolled out amongst all agencies using an emailing campaign, which we timed carefully according to the location of each agencies’ offices, supported by paid social posts, with a focus on Spotify’s B2B community on linkedin and twitter. The mailing campaign had a great opening rate, and we quickly started seeing the traffic flowing in.

Because this was one of the first products that we would handle support for that we rolled out both in Europe and the States, we wanted to see it as a test case. There a lot of benefits, we feel, to offering support ourselves and not outsourcing the responsibility. After all, we’re the ones who know the product best; and our developers, project managers and support team are only a few seats away from each other. Our relatively small scale helps us deal with any issues swiftly . However, time zones form a bit of a challenge – after all, our PMs and support manager do like to sleep at night…

For the Valentine project, we set up a simple system. We arranged for support to be handled by the project’s PM – that’s me – and our New York-based client services director Pete. This way, clients calling in during our nighttime would get an answer to their questions, and any problems could be resolved first thing in the Belgian morning. This setup ensured the entire project went smoothly, and we were prepared to clear up issues swiftly.

Feedback and wedding plans

Of course, the Valentine app is just a bit of seasonal fun – but the numbers don’t lie. The Music Match Maker was used by just under 3700 people (about two thirds in Europe and one third in the USA and Canada) from 343 agencies. A little fun fact? The most liked artist was Coldplay; the most disliked, One Direction.

Some Spotify Valentine Music Matchmaker statistics.

Unfortunately, the most important metric is the hardest to get feedback of: how much love did the app actually spread?

Well, based on anecdotal evidence, we know several dates took place, both this and last year. We’re expecting some wedding invites in the near future…