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Spotify-Tango collaboration takes messaging apps in a whole new direction

Spotify Tango Collaboration

Tango and Spotify are kicking off a collaboration aimed at offering a new music sharing opportunity for Tango messaging app users. Anyone using Tango can get access to 30 second clips of any Spotify song — and then share them with their friends. People can access full-length songs via the music service. Spotify has 24 million active users and according to Tango’s Eric Setton, the company’s messaging app has now hit 60 million monthly active users globally.

According to Onavo, Tango lags behind rivals like Kik or Viber in monthly engagement among iPhone owners in the United States. But interestingly, Setton claims that the real-time protocols used by Tango are incompatible with Onavo’s methodology, leading to vastly understated engagement readings. I have heard other developer claims about problems with Onavo’s technology, but this is perhaps the clearest case.

Onavo’s Guy Rosen declined to comment on the matter.

Tango has been expanding its content offerings rapidly in an effort to catch up with LINE and Kakao, two messaging platforms that are now topping $100 million a quarter in revenue from apps promoted to their users. Last June, Tango launched a game service that now spans 16 games and has driven millions of downloads. According to Tango, players spend between 25% and 40% more time on games that they access via the messaging service than they do normally.

And this could be a key to why Spotify is interested in Tango. If the messaging platform increases time spent on games, could it do the same for music streaming services? Will recommendations ricocheting across networks of friends suck in new subscribers for Spotify and push casual users into the paying user category?

As LINE and KakaoTalk battle for supremacy in Asia, the U.S. messaging market is turning into a battlefield where WhatsApp, Tango, Kik, Viber and now BBM slug it out. WhatsApp had a huge early lead in app downloads, but it has so far refused to turn its service into a platform for games or other content distribution. This has left Kik and Tango an opening to promote their content services to their rapidly growing user bases.

The success of the Tango-Spotify collaboration could tell us a great deal about how interested American consumers are in messaging platform content beyond games.

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