Growing Spotify’s global subscribers with Nikki Lambert, now CMO at Popsa – Episode 18

Today Spotify has over 180 million premium subscribers, but at the start of Nikki Lambert’s tenure, that number was just 200k.

Having been involved in its meteoric expansion into dozens of new territories, it’s clear that Nikki’s marketing focus promises a bright future for Popsa, where she’s now CMO.


Nikki joins Alex Marriner on this episode of Scale of One to Tech to share how she uses data to tell stories, the immeasurable value that a passionate leader can bring to a team, and how Popsa overcomes the challenges of longer lead times.


This episode covers

  • Nikki’s illustrious and eventful career, through Virgin, Spotify, and MelodyVR/Napster
  • How to use data to tell meaningful stories, particularly with Nikki’s involvement with the first ‘Spotify Wrapped’
  • Opportunities presented by Covid to engage less tech-adept users with Popsa’s easy interface
  • Overcoming the challenge of attracting consumers to services with longer lead times


Topic Segments:

1:35 – Nikki’s Answers to the Quickfire Questions

4:35 – Experience at Virgin

10:50 – Joining Spotify’s Exceptional Growth

20:20 – Shifting Focus at MelodyVR

26:50 – Insights from Nikki’s Current CMO Role at Popsa

41:30 – Creation of Spotify Wrapped & Regional Work

51:20 – Top Leadership Traits & CMO Challenges Ahead


This episode of Scale of One to Tech is sponsored by eOpinion, who are on a mission to change the face of the survey industry by captivating and entertaining your users and customers. They use 30 seconds speedy polls to create interesting stories, actionable insights and increase engagement. Get a half-price Speedy Poll at


Links & references


Alex Marriner:


Acquire Digital Talent:


Nikki Lambert:



Episode highlights


“Virgin was an environment where you were really encouraged to get stuck in, show that you were interested, and then opportunities would open up, which was particularly appealing to me without having a solid academic background.” – 6:40 – Nikki Lambert


“I joined Spotify and was really excited, but got a big wallop of reality that tech driven product businesses sometimes have a different view of what marketing is about, what it’s there for. In my first conversation with Daniel [Elk, CEO], I was like, ‘Yeah, this is amazing’. He didn’t quite say it, but he kind of said, ‘Yeah, I’m not really down with the marketing thing – I feel like good products should sell themselves’, which floored me a little bit.” – 12:40 – Nikki Lambert


“To give a sense of scale, when I joined the business, there were about 200,000 paying subscribers. Over the sort of five and a bit years I was there that increased to 55 million, with 100 million monthly active users. So there were incredible rates of growth.” – 17:15 – Nikki Lambert


“I think for Popsa, the real difference for us and where we want to get to is a place where what we are doing is helping you extract the bits of meaning from your photo library. So not the receipts, not the reminders and other people’s photos, but really encouraging you through technology to do stuff with that.” – 31:00 – Nikki Lambert


“A huge amount of our reviews and Trustpilot ratings and word of mouth comes from people who never thought they would be able to do something like this, but actually Popsa has given them the confidence to learn a new skill.” – 34:30 – Nikki Lambert


“With Popsa there’s just a longer lead time on getting people to engage, because even if they love what we’re doing, they’ll be like, ‘Actually, it’s my mate’s birthday in a few months, so I’ll use Popsa to make a photo book’. So things like retargeting and doing our best to figure out lifetime value becomes really important.” – 38:45 – Nikki Lambert


“I’m proud to say I was one of the team that worked on the very first Spotify Wrapped, which was called Year in Review back then, which is now sort of widely heralded as like a really impressive initiative to use data in a really interesting way. Using data to be able to tell stories to consumers is incredibly important.” – 41:45 – Nikki Lambert


“If you’re trying to build a product that can connect with people every time they want to listen to music, you have to have people who are connected to what’s going on in that market, whether it’s who the X-Factor star in that market is, or what the cultural trends are around music. So a big part of my role was really guiding local teams on the ground who were knowledgeable about their regions, and who very much were multi-skilled marketeers.” – 47:00 – Nikki Lambert


“You don’t have to be the CEO creating the amazing business to have passion and enthusiasm about what you’re doing. But I think it is infectious and people feed from it. ” – 51:55 – Nikki Lambert