Spinnin’ Records playlist rebrand for voice activation – a swing and a miss?

Today, Spinnin’ records announced that they were going to rebrand 4 of their playlists so that they can be easily found in voice activated speaker systems like Amazon’s Alexa.

In a statement the company said… “This means that playlists can now be found under a new succinct name, all have a unique theme and iconic-branding, making it more compatible for the streaming age and ready for voice-activated technology.”

The four playlists are named; Hundred, Brand New, Pixel and Fit.

Whilst the point of whether you should brand or rebrand a product/service to fit in with consumer behaviour is a debate for another day there I think problem with the names Spinnin’ have chosen. Namely that Spinnin’ have made the playlist names too generic. So much so that the exact reverse has happened to their goal.

To test to see if these names were easily discoverable via my Amazon Echo which is connected to my Spotify account I first went in and followed all 4 Spinnin’ playlists in my Spotify account (this usually makes them more discoverable when I play them using voice commands) and then I tried to play them using voice activation.

First of all I tried to play the “Hundred” playlist, here’s what I said and what happened…

“Alexa, play the Hundred playlist on Spotify” – Alexa played the Billboard Hot 100 playlist
“Alexa, play the One Hundred playlist on Spotify” – Alexa played the Billboard Hot 100 playlist
“Alexa, play Hundred on Spotify” – Alexa played the song “OneHundred” by Sims
“Alexa play One Hundred on Spotify” – Alexa played “One Hundred by NF

This went on for a while, I tried every combination of Hundred, One Hundred, One Hundred Playlist and so on. None of the results brought up the Spinnin’ Records playlist. Eventually I gave up and asked Alexa to play “the Hundred playlist by Spinnin’ Records on Spotify” only for Alexa to say that “she” couldn’t find it.

At this point I gave up, and decided to move on to the “Fit” playlist.

“Alexa, play the Fit playlist on Spotify” – Alexa played the “This Is Escape The Fate” playlist ?!
“Alexa, play the Fit playlist on Spotify” – Alexa played a playlist called Spin Fit
“Alexa, play the Fit playlist on Spotify by Spinnin’ Records” – Alexa played the “This Is Fitz and The Tantrums” playlist ?!?!

Once again, no matter what I said I couldn’t get Alexa to play the Fit playlist. OK then moving on….

“Alexa play the Brand New playlist” – Success! Worked first time.

“Alexa, play the Pixel playlist” – Success! Also worked first time. Side note, because all of the playlists have emoticons in the title, Alexa says “Playing Pixel Joystick by Spinnin’ Records on Spotify”. It sounds kinda jarring so I would consider removing the emoticons from the playlist title. If the playlists are meant for voice activation they’re redundant anyway.

So, a 50% success rate. But with only 4 playlists I would want a 100% success rate.

If I was rebranding playlists for voice activation I would make the playlist names as unique as possible. Like Spotify’s Rap Caviar or Bassline Bangers, that way there’s no room for confusion. What I expect is really happening here is that Spinnin’ are deliberately going for a generic name in an effort to mop up some generic searches, i.e. people who ask Alexa to play something “brand new” or “top 100 songs” etc. However I can’t help feel that this strategy is just trying to look for low hanging fruit in the search world and they are much better off growing playlists with a strong unique identity that stand up on their own.

After all, Spinnin’ have built a fantastic dance brand over the last 20 years or so and that’s where their strength lies, not in voice search “SEO”.

Side note, ironically the brand looks great visually.

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