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This article was published on October 30, 2013

Spotify boards the mobile messaging train, bringing 30-second shareable music clips to Tango

Spotify boards the mobile messaging train, bringing 30-second shareable music clips to Tango
Jon Russell
Story by

Jon Russell

Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.

Music streaming service Spotify is jumping on the mobile messaging bandwagon after it announced a partnership with Tango that brings short clips from its catalog of 20 million songs to Tango’s iOS and Android apps.

Spotify is hoping that the deal with Tango, which claims over 160 million registered users, will increase its presence and the number of paying Spotify users in the US, Europe and other major markets.

Shareable music clips

The partnership means that users of Tango for iOS and Android can play 30-second snippets from Spotify’s wide-ranging music collection inside the app, and share them among friends. The feature is available in the 32 countries where Spotify’s service is live, while the feature is available to all Tango users in those markets, regardless of whether they have a Spotify account.

The bet Spotify and Tango are making here is that adding music to the user experience — which already includes Tango games, video/voice calls and multimedia — will lead to greater engagement, while exposing the appeal of Spotify’s library via bite-sized clips.

Users can share and find music from within the dedicated tab in the app, or they can navigate to the music search option from inside conversations with friends:

music 1

There are additional benefits for Spotify Premium users, who are taken to the Spotify mobile app to hear the full song when they click on a link within Tango.

“Mobile messaging apps like Tango have helped remove the friction from sharing content that had existed previously, so it’s a natural platform to help us realize our global growth aspirations and provide everyone around the world with music for the right moment,” Tom Hsieh, Spotify VP of Strategic Partnerships, tells TNW.

Hsieh further explains that the Tango deal is not exclusive — “we’re always having conversations with all kinds of potential partners but don’t have anything further to announce today” — but the two companies will continue to work together to introduce new features and strengthen the user experience.

The financials of the deal are based on revenue sharing, with Tango taking a cut of any Spotify Premium signups that result from Tango’s iOS and Android apps.

Another multimedia play from Tango

A tie-in with Spotify looks like a very plum deal for Tango, which has most of its users in North America and Europe, where it predominantly competes with the likes of WhatsApp, Kik and GroupMe, although Asian companies like WeChat and Line are in the process of ambitious global expansions.

Tango took a leaf out of the Asian playbook when it introduced a ‘connected’ games platform in June, which lets developers link their apps to Tango’s social graph, and Tango CTO Eric Setton tells TNW that — as with games platform — content discovery is a key part of the Spotify deal.

“We already know that we can help games and game developers go viral among our users, and we’re happy to expand that approach to another major vertical: music. We think this is a very natural fit.”


Beyond just helping Tango users find and share new music, Setton believes that music is a key pillar of expression for users.

“Sharing music is like playing a record when people come to visit your house,” he says. “It’s inherently person, and we want to bring these kinds of experiences into our app.”

When pressed on what other features and services Tango could introduce — bearing in mind that Line and Korea’s Kakao Talk are planning or have launched music players and e-commerce services — Setton says only that Tango wants to replicate “communal moments.”

“If we could convey food within the app… we would,” he jokes, but the example serves to highlight the kind of thinking at Tango, as it strives to differentiate itself from the competition in this fast-growing vertical.

Strengthening engagement with multimedia

Setton also revealed some tidbits about how the Tango games platform is developing.

There are now over 16 titles for iOS and Android, and the catalogue is growing with one or two new arrivals each week. Setton says developers are seeing anything from a 20-40 percent increase in user retention thanks to Tango social integration, and — as a discovery channel — he believes Tango is beating traditional app store alternatives like ad networks as options for developers seeking traction among users.


I’ve been playing with the new Spotify feature over the past week and, though I can imagine it will be a welcome addition for Tango users, it is different to gaming since it strengthens the engagement of existing users, rather than driving new sign-ups.

Nonetheless, Tango is one of the more adventurous of the Western messaging firms in that it is prepared to introduce new multimedia features — many of which have seen initial success in Asia — to provide a richer user experience. That’s the polar opposite to many of its North American rivals who appear to prefer a more simplistic, messaging-focused offering.

As I said when I evaluated market leader WhatsApp’s chances of ‘winning the messaging war’ earlier this week, it’s not yet clear whether Western users favor simplicity or features — it will certainly be interesting to see which wins out over time.

Headline image via  Arkadiusz Komski / Shutterstock