Adventures in the Lowlands: Spotify, Social Media and Music Festivals

Note: On August 3, 2019, Spotify Insights will be no more. But all the data stories you’ve come to enjoy will be available in Spotify’s newsroom, For The Record. Head over to the site not just for data insights, but also cultural trends, how-tos, artist interviews, and more. Want to stay on top of all our latest news and stories? Follow us on For The Record’s Twitter feed, @spotifynews.

In The Netherlands, people spend about half as much on recorded music as they did in 2003. They spend about twice as much on live music as on CDs, downloads, and streaming.

Other countries have shown this shift from recorded to live revenue, including the UK, but nowhere as dramatically as in The Netherlands. However, consumer spending on music bounced back in 2013, arguably due to increased contributions from streaming services like Spotify:


Last year’s return of the orange bar is good news for the music industry. It shows that people in The Netherlands finally spent more on recorded music than they did the previous year.

Still, look at those big blue bars representing Dutch live music spend. Let’s consider Spotify’s role in growing the blue bars, in addition to its primary role in restoring orange ones.

To do this, we looked at The Netherlands’ Lowlands Festival (August 15-17), one of the country’s biggest music festivals. It has a reputation for bringing new bands into the limelight, which can only lead to a larger, more robust music industry.

Here’s what we found when we looked at the intersection of the Lowlands Festival, Spotify, and the social networks where festival-goers shared their experience:

1. More than two thirds of Lowlands festival-goers have Spotify

Leading Dutch concert promoter Mojo Concerts, a subsidiary of Live Nation, conducted a survey of over 2,000 attendees of Lowlands Festival. Over two thirds of the attendees surveyed have Spotify. No one expected that level of penetration and usage. Mojo also found that over half of those over 55 use a streaming service.

Spotify conducted an additional survey of Lowlands attendees — finding that 70% of Spotify-using attendees used it to discover new bands before the festival, and 80% of them checking out bands they’d seen at the festival. What’s more, about half used it to check out the bands they missed there. As one might expect, most of these attendees kept their focus on the festival as it happened, with only 1 in 3 using Spotify during the event.

2. First Aid Kit saw a big boost

The Swedish duo First Aid Kit won the crowd over in terms of streams after the festival (for the methodology behind this section and more, see the .pdf described below).

First Aid Kit saw their Dutch Spotify streams increase by 135% in the two weeks following the festival. The number of people listening to them shot up by 80% in the same time period, suggesting they found a new audience (as well as new engagement) in The Netherlands.

New First Aid Kit fans were spread evenly across age and gender – females on the left, males on the right (younger to older from left to right). As you can see, the group did particularly well with male Spotify fans in their 20s and 30s:


First Aid Kit certainly wowed the crowd from the small stage.

Over on the main stage, UK soul artist Sam Smith was the big winner. Compared to First Aid Kit, he was already fairly popular on Spotify in The Netherlands. Still, Sam Smith streams increased by 22%, while his users increased 14%, meaning that he drew new fans. Unlike the new fans First Aid Kit met at Lowlands, Sam Smith mostly drew the younger female demographic. This uplift in activity fed into both streams and sales, with the former generating more revenue than the latter.

3. Social media boosts: big, but temporary

Streaming and sales are only part of the puzzle for bands and managers navigating this new landscape. Social media might not pay the bills directly, but it can help, because its effect is more immediate. In an age of instant gratification, this can no longer be ignored.

During the festival, Instagram dominated, according to Next Big Sound. A closer analysis of the trends reveals that typical fan behavior around the festival generally looks like this:

  • Before: Artist Mentions on Twitter (“I am excited to see @[band name]!”)
  • During: Artist Likes on Instagram (“Let me check out some pictures of the bands I am seeing here!”)
  • After: Facebook Likes (“I want to tell everyone that I now officially Like [band name].”)

But really, all of these social media measures tail off pretty quickly, once the festival is over:


Music festivals such as Lowlands have always been and always will be great places to discover new bands. Nothing new there. But with Spotify reaching critical mass in many key festival markets, there is so much more knowledge being built. This knowledge positively affects fans, bands, and promoters.

To learn more, read the full report in downloadable .pdf form:


The report this blog post was based on was prepared with Chris Carey of Media Insight Consulting, an independent consultant and an expert in music data analytics. The research was constructed with the help of Jim Kreeftenberg and Nienke Dettmeijer at Spotify Netherlands. Special thanks to Eric van Eerdenburg and Mojo Netherlands for their cooperation and support. The author would also like to thank Sony Music Entertainment, Facebook, BUMA, GfK Netherlands, and Next Big Sound.