Seth Farbman, Former Gap Global CMO, Heads to Spotify

Respected Retail Marketer Joins Streaming Service As It Gears Up for Battle With Apple

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Seth Farbman
Seth Farbman

For its first top marketer, Spotify tapped a marquee name: Seth Farbman, the former global CMO of Gap. He departed the national retailer in January.

Mr. Farbman will join Spotify on April 6th and be based in New York.

"I'm incredibly excited to join a company that has been growing like crazy, based almost entirely on the quality of its people and its commitment to music, artists and fans around the world," Mr. Farbman said in a statement. "These are revolutionary times for Spotify and the music industry and I'm grateful to be part of them."

He joins the music-streaming service as it braces for a critical year. The company, headquartered in Stockholm and London, continues to elbow for distribution, listeners and ad dollars against Pandora and a litany of music service rivals. And it is facing menacing, uncertain challenges from two mobile giants, Google and Apple, which both acquired streaming services last year.

In November, Spotify's royalty arrangement with musicians faced a firestorm when mega-star Taylor Swift pulled her catalogue from the service. Last month, the company moved its media account from Publicis' Starcom to 360i, the digital shop from Dentsu Aegis. In January, the company moved to raise an additional $50 million, adding to the $250 million collected in 2013, a move interpreted as delaying its highly-anticipated public offering.

Spotify, which operates in 58 countries, claims 60 million active users and 15 million paid subscribers.

To shape its public face, the company picked an executive known for cementing a brand. Mr. Farbman was the architect behind Gap's marketing overhaul, joining in 2011 as the brand's first Global CMO. Mr. Farbman oversaw massive changes, including a move to remind people -- both inside and outside the company -- of the storied brand's history. He built up the team in New York and brought in fresh talent. Mr. Farbman, named to Ad Age's Creativity 50 list last year, also oversaw the brand's first global campaign and the creation of the popular "Be Bright" platform.

Early in his tenure Mr. Farbman shifted away from an agency-of-record model in a bid to generate fresh ideas. The brand moved away from Ogilvy, which is where Mr. Farbman had joined from, and tapped Peterson Milla Hooks and AKQA.

With Gap's sales moving in the right direction, its marketing budget grew. Measured media spending more than doubled to $54 million during Mr. Farbman's tenure, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.

In March, the brand tapped Wieden & Kennedy as its lead global agency. Arresting work, including ads created with Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Sofia Coppola followed.

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