Spotify has closed its long-term sponsorship deal with leading European soccer club FC Barcelona, touting the new partnership as a new way for the streaming giant to amplify artists across the globe.
Under the agreement, Spotify will become soccer club’s main partner and official audio streaming partner, with the Spotify brand appearing on the front of men’s and women’s team shirts and training shirts beginning in the 2022-23 season. The deal spans four seasons for team shirts and over three seasons for training shirts. Additionally, FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium – which is soon slated to undergo an extensive redevelopment project – will be rebranded Spotify Camp Nou.
“It’s about connecting fans with artists of every kind — players and artists, music and sports,” Spotify’s chief freemium business officer Alex Norström in a blog post announcing the partnership. “Barcelona fans and audio lovers on Spotify will come together to form a massive, globally connected community bridging the worlds of music and football. The vision for the partnership is to create a new platform to help artists interact with Barcelona’s global community of fans.”
Spotify is positioning the partnership as an additional avenue to promote artists and expose them to new fanbases. Among other in-stadium elements, Spotify will work to amplify artists through the shirt sponsorship; instead of featuring merely a company logo, players’ jerseys could boast images designed to promote artists themselves. “If you think about how we’ve used our marketing platforms in the past, which regularly spotlight new and female artists through our EQUAL and RADAR programs, you can get a sense of the approach we’ll be thinking about for the partnership,” said Norström.
Spotify will also have the opportunity to use the Camp Nou stadium’s digital displays to amplify artists to FC Barcelona’s global TV audience through geo-targeting — in effect allowing Spotify to tailor messages about artists to viewers in different parts of the world.
Norström notes that FC Barcelona’s massive fanbase, most of which are under the age of 30, live in some of Spotify’s fastest-growing markets, including India, Latin America, and Indonesia.
Already approved and signed by the board of directors of FC Barcelona, the partnership deal is subject to ratification of the Barcelona Members Assembly, which is set to take place on April 3.
In a statement, FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the partnership “will allow us to continue to bring the Club closer to its fans and make them feel, even more, part of the Barça family through unique experiences, combining two activities such as entertainment and football, making it possible for us to connect with new audiences around the world.”
The FC Barcelona deal follows Spotify founder Daniel Ek’s unsuccessful takeover bid for U.K. soccer club Arsenal last year, which fell through after the family of Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke rejected his offer. It represents the latest move by Spotify and Ek’s investment company, Prima Materia, to make inroads outside of music. Last year, Ek invested over $114 million in Helsing, a European security startup that manufactures artificial intelligence software to help soldiers detect enemy drones and hostile troops, leading to a social-media backlash by some artists.
After winning Europe’s premier competition, the Champions League, four times between 2006 and 2015, FC Barcelona’s fortunes have dwindled in recent years. This season, the club exited both the Champions League and Spain’s domestic King’s Cup early, and it currently sits in third place in the La Liga standings. It’s also currently saddled with more than 1 billion euros of debt, leading Laporta to call on public prosecutors to investigate mismanagement and possible fraud by the club’s last president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.