Have you ever wondered what makes a hit song? Or how top playlists come together on Spotify? Holding the answers to these questions and many more is Spotify’s Chief Economist, Will Page.

Will has been instrumental in helping industry stakeholders adapt to streaming and to let go of outdated, ineffective concepts. Since joining Spotify in 2012, Will has explored ‘the anatomy of a hit’ for artists like Lorde, Mr Probz and Meghan Trainor.

At Nudgestock this year, joined by University of Chicago Booth School of Business’s Milena Bogdanova Bursztyn, Will is going to lift the lid on how behavioural science is being applied at Spotify.  Ahead of the talk, we caught up with Will to find out more…

 Describe your Nudgestock talk as a song lyric

Time slide place to hide nudge reality
Foresight minds wide magic imagery, oh oh

- Big Audie Dynamite 'E=MC2'

(this is a timeless song if you don't already know it)

To date, Spotify has launched in 79 markets, has over 200 million active users. What’s the secret to your success?

Rory Sutherland will tell you why people suffer from short memories, and we can see that today as no one talks about piracy. Yet back when Spotify launched in the UK in 2008 all people talked about was piracy. The reason why, is that Spotify beat piracy at its own game, built something that was better than stealing, got money back to creators and get the music industry back to growth. Now, it's easy to celebrate our success but we should never forget the behaviour we needed to fix first. 

Are there any behavioural nudges Spotify uses that we may know about?

Our Wrapped Campaign is a good nudge. If you think about it, your experience(s) on Spotify in 2018 are both personal and unique - no one else listened to that music, in that order. Yet Wrapped took what was unique and made it a shareable, with everyone learning and expressing what they, alone, had experienced musically that year. This is Spotify making a narrowcast feel like a broadcast or moving music away from a 'one to many' model, and allowing 'many one-to-one's' to flourish instead. 

With the digital renaissance gathering momentum, are there any trends we should be looking out for when it comes to music streaming services?

So many.  Voice is one of the most fascinating, as it affects all of the media players. For music, you could have people asking to play a specific album or track evolving into asking to hear a specific style or genre. Voice will also affect games as it will become possible to play without using your hands. Finally, voice will affect children in ways that we (older folks) can't fully appreciate: there are already studies looking into why they get upset when their parents shout at Alexa.


Nudgestock 2019, Ogilvy's annual festival of behavioural science, takes place in Folkestone on Friday 7th June. More info here.