Why the Spotify Premium Director left for a meditation app

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Spotify Premium Director Robert Lamvik recently left the digital music giant to join the executive team of guided meditation platform Headspace. For those of you not familiar with Headspace, I highly recommend giving it a try by downloading the app to access 10 free mediations — no strings attached. To get a better sense for the company’s mission, their Co-Founder, Andy Puddicombe, has a highly rated TEDTalk you can find here about how mindfulness training can transform the present moment. The New York Times says their founder, “is doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food.” Meanwhile, the New Yorker calls it “Enlightenment on your iPhone.”

Cashing in

Headspace generates revenue via monthly subscriptions for its guided meditation platform. Anyone can sample the service via the “Take 10” program, which offers 10 free guided meditations. After that, the company offers a variety of membership plans:

$12.95 per month on a month-to-month basis

$7.99 per month if you join for a year

 $6.24 per month for a two-year commitment

$419.95 for unlimited lifetime access

Robert Lamvik, the former Spotify Premium Director, has left the company to join the Headspace meditation app team. During his time with Spotify, Lamvik spent four years on earnings initiatives and increasing premium subscriptions.  By bringing him on board as Head of Growth, Headspace hopes to transform their service into a subscription powerhouse just like Spotify, except instead of bringing music to the masses, Headspace hopes to bring mindfulness to the masses.

The increase in user interest coincides with the rise of meditation studios opening up across major cities including NYC and LA in recent years. In a TechCrunch interview, Lamvik offers a peak into his decision to join Headspace:

“[Spotify has] basically perfected the freemium model. This was an opportunity to join a mission-driven startup like Headspace and an opportunity to bring people together and bridge together health and happiness.”

Clearly, he sees enormous potential in the Headspace offering considering he leaves Spotify at a time when a future IPO offering is in the works.  Who would have thought that introducing meditation to the Western market on a massive scale could attract such attention from an esteemed industry executive?

At this point, Headspace has had more than 11 million individual downloads with annual revenue of over $50 million and a recent Forbes valuation of approximately $250 million. As of January 2017, the company had about 400,000 paying subscribers. Lamvik’s goal is to grow that figure.

You might be thinking, why should digital business visionaries pay any attention to the ongoing story of a meditation service?

In fact, Co-Founder Rich Pierson was also skeptical when he first met Andy Puddicombe — Buddhist monk turned entrepreneur.  But after bonding with Puddicombe and offering marketing strategies for his budding meditation business in exchange for one-on-one mindfulness training, something changed.  Peirson (who has not skipped a day of mediation since their interaction) reports, “Andy’s first question was, ‘How much of your life do you spend in the present moment?’ I didn’t know that was a thing. It fired something up in me.”

Both Peirson and Lamvik are not alone in their belief that this app can take off. Headspace recently raised $30 million in their July 2015 Series A from various firms (including The Chernin workforce, Advancit Capital, Allen & company, Breyer Capital, Jessica Alba, actor Jared Leto, television character Ryan Seacrest, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, among others). 

CEO Brecker has this to say,

“It’s an incredible commercial opportunity because it’s digital content we create ourselves. There are no licensing fees. It’s immensely scalable.”

My praise for the app comes from its approachability and easy-access.

At the end of 2016, the app participated in Spotify’s first bundling partnership, so that users across Scandinavia can now subscribe to both apps through a bundled deal. In addition, seven airlines offer Headspace on flights — bringing zen to the skies. [This includes United Airlines who may need a higher dose of relaxation for passengers following recent events.]

According to the World Economic Forum, mental health costs are on pace to hit $6 trillion by 2030, which surpasses costs associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. In effect, tech visionaries such as Lamvik are betting on the willingness of people along with organizations to invest in monthly subscription access to their bounty of digital meditation packs and videos. By addressing a wide variety of topics ranging from stress to sports to relationships to pain, Headspace aims to become a go-to user staple like Spotify.

Personally I think one of Headspace’s greatest assets lies in data, and if Lamvik and his team can find a solid way to lock-in subscriptions through individuals and corporate wellness programs, they will go far. Ultimately, the Headspace team combines mission-driven dedication with a product space that opens up possibility for data and technology to elevate the human experience.

So what do you think? If you had the opportunity, what idea, service, or movement would you be willing to bet on?


Sources:

Spotify Premium Director Robert Lamvik leaves company for meditation app Headspace

https://www.headspace.com/andy-puddicombe

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathleenchaykowski/2017/01/08/meet-headspace-the-app-that-made-meditation-a-250-million-business/#7e19ae721f1b

9 comments

  1. Great post. Although Spotify is in its IPO process, it seems like there is a huge market potential for the mental health industry. I’ve noticed more and more people doing Yoga each year, or at least it seems like it to me from my own observation. I think this was a great move by Lamvik, who has been successful in introducing and getting many people to subscribe for Spotify. Bringing people together on the health and happiness space, and introducing the 10 free trials, could be a great move and I think there is definitely a lot of potential for Headspace going forward.

  2. Thanks for the post. I was not aware of Headspace. I find it strange marketing mindfulness/meditation through an app. I fell like smartphones somewhat contradict these practices. When I have meditated/reflected, I like to be away from technology and all distractions. However, the idea does intrigue me. Your post has inspired me to download headspace and give it chance.

  3. Wow – good for Lamvik for having the courage to take his skills he contributed to Spotify and bring them to another company. I hadn’t heard of Headspace either, but I definitely want to try some of the free meditations to see what it’s all about. I think that the key for Lamvik in this endeavor will be to leverage the freemium feature that helped Spotify gain it’s popularity – although I’m not sure the idea of ads in between meditations would work the same way it does for songs. Great post!

  4. Really wonderful post — I loved the story of transitioning regarding Lamvik, but I also loved the breakdown of the Take Ten app. I had never heard of this one although I have used Headspace a lot in the past. I think its a wonderful app with a really interesting background. Their CEO is an amazing example of a servant leader. It is really cool to see apps doing things that make people feel better and while Spotify makes people feel good in the release through music, meditation that is easily accessible can change people’s health and mindset. Really enjoyed reading this post! Thank you!

  5. Headspace is a really great app! I’m definitely using my free meditation sessions sparingly. The trend of on-demand health and wellness has been experiencing huge growth and it’s no wonder Lamvik wants to get in on it. I liked what you said about corporate partnerships. Mental and emotional health is something that is now being recognized more by social psychologists. Guy Winch hypothesizes that focusing on psychological health will the next way humans will increase average lifespan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2hc2FLOdhI). That being said, I think it would be of great value for companies to works towards better mental and emotional health of their employees. Headspace is a great opportunity for that! Great post, Faye!

  6. Great post! I agree with Joe that seems that combination of meditation and a smartphone is a strange mixture, but I have a friend that works as a social worker and she recommends this app all the time. It’s really interesting that they were involved with Spotify’s first bundling partnership. I think this is a great strategy, because most of us pay for Spotify’s subscription-based model and have no reservations about the cost. I think if they can associate themselves with Spotify, it is likely to have a positive effect.

  7. So glad you introduced us to this! Great idea for a blog post and really interesting to see someone take their knowledge and help grow another start up like Headspace. It is great to see the way they are trying to expand and market themselves to reach other consumers. Loved how they worked with Spotify and airlines to reach the right demographic.

  8. Great post! I have heard of the app before and even tried using it for a few sessions, but didn’t get far – I sort of just concluded that meidtation is not my thing. However, I feel like it is a great app and a business model that allows people who would otherwise not have access to a certain service get a full and guided experience at an affordable price point, and the fact that it allows for 10 free sessions will make the user acquisition so much easier for them (however, they’ll have to battle the conversion from free to paid users). I personally don’t see much resemblance with Spotify, I would compare it to fitness apps instead. The main options for fitness and healthy lifestyle are to self-educate for free (find information online or elsewhere), or pay for guided programs or even a personal trainer, which tend to be expensive. A lot of fitness apps provide personalized guidance/workouts/nutrition plans/etc. for a monthly fee, allowing one to get the benefit of educated guidance at a much lower price point. Similarly, one can learn everything about meditation if they set out to do so, or can have specialists guide them thorugh the process – Headspace provides a middle ground, helping the adoption of the practice of meditation along the way.

  9. Great topic. I LOVE Headspace and recommend it to everyone. I had no idea that there was overlap between Spotify and Headspace in terms of brains behind the operations. I can see, however, how Headspace would be a very profitable business because there are only so many times one can repeat the 10 free trial sessions on Headspace without feeling the need to upgrade. It will be interesting to see in the future how much money people will be willing to invest in their mental health. I, personally, think that it is hard to put a price-tag on good mental health and even if it means dishing out a few dollars a month to get unlimited access to a meditation app, that is a vert worthwhile investment in the name of a quiet mind.

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