Ad of the Day: Spotify

Droga5 looks to capture the power of music in its first ads for the streaming service

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Music tends to resist attempts to define it. But Spotify tries to do so anyway in its first-ever advertising campaign—a dark, atmospheric effort for the streaming-music service from Droga5 in New York.

The centerpiece is an anthem spot, "For Music," which debuts Monday night on NBC's The Voice. Cut into 30-, 60- and 90-second versions, it shows a guy taking the crowd-surf of his life over a seething mass of thousands of faceless humans, as a male voiceover tries to describe what music is, and what it can accomplish. (Talk about a difficult task.)

"It's been said that the best songs don't give answers but instead ask questions," says the voice. "So, why? Why does music stop us in our tracks? Dictate if we pump a fist or swing it? Why can a song change the world? Because music is a force. For good. For change. For whatever. It's a magnifying glass. A bullhorn. A stick in the gears and the tools to fix it. Because music is a need. An urge to be vindicated. It's bigger than us. It lives inside us. Because we were all conceived to a 4:4 beat. Because music can't be stopped. Can't be contained. It's never finished. Because music makes us scream 'Coo coo ca choo' and mean it. Because music is worth fighting for. Why? Because it's music."

If that copy seems somewhat random, no wonder. Music is ineffable. Particular songs can be roughly described in words, more or less. But trying to capture what music is and what it does forces you to use any number of metaphors, many of which are strung together here. It's a problem endemic to many anthem spots—see Wieden + Kennedy's recent work for Facebook and Levi's. Attempting to ascribe great meaning to a product's effect on humanity is challenging in the best of times, and perhaps impossible when the product is as vast, unwieldy and deeply personal as music.

Notably, the spot also doesn't really have any music in it. It has echoing tones throughout, but nothing that would rouse anyone to a state of ecstasy or political purpose. It's an almost completely visual and textual way of characterizing something that is neither. This may be unavoidable, too—you wouldn't use particular tracks, or even several, if the goal is to communicate universality. Still, talking about the power of music without demonstrating it feels cerebral rather than emotional—like telling, not showing.

That said, the spot is beautifully filmed by Seb Edwards of Park Pictures (whom we spotlighted last year for his lovely Hovis ad). The sea of hands, the swells that move through the crowd, the haunting lighting—it's a grand and impressive production that suits the message well. Whatever detractors it has, the spot will have its fervent admirers as well.

The campaign will also include other 15- and 30-second TV spots (see two below) that depict specific moments where music changes everything—a chance meeting, a moment of nostalgia, an impromptu party. There are digital and social executions, too.


Client: Spotify

Vp, Global Marketing & Partnerships Erin Clift

Director Of Business Marketing Hayeon Kim

Creative Director Rich Frankel

Head of Video Johannes Ring

Agency Droga5, New York

Creative Chairman David Droga

Group Creative Director Neil Heymann

Creative Director Graham Douglas

Lead Copywriter Spencer Lavallee

Creative Mutant Kenny Kim

Head of Integrated Production Sally-Ann Dale

Head of Broadcast Production Ben Davies

Head of Digital Strategy Chet Gulland

Senior Digital Strategist Dan Neumann

Brand Strategist Matthew Gardner

Communications Strategy Director Colleen Leddy

Group Account Director Tenny Pearson

Account Director Matthew Hennell

Executive Interactive Producer Lindsey Slaby

Digital Producer Justin Durazzo

UX Designer Eileen Tang

Creative Technical Lead Fran Devinney

Designer Ryan Hoelting

Senior Art Producer Julia Menassa

Print Production Manager Kim Williams

Retoucher Travis Commeau

Broadcast Production Company Park Pictures

Director Seb Edwards

DOP Hoyte Van Hoytema

Partner / Executive Producer Jackie Kelman

Executive Producer Justin Pollock

Producer Caroline Kousidonis

Broadcast Editorial Trim Edit / Cosmo Street Editorial

Editor Tom Lindsay

Assistant Editor Mark Potter

Executive Producer Maura Woodward

Producer Heather Richardson

Broadcast Post Production The Mill New York

Head Of Production Sean Costelloe

Producer Lily Tilton

Colorist Fergus Mccall

Lead Flame Artists Westley Sarokin / Nathan Kane

CG Lead Wyatt Savarese / Vince Baertsoen

Broadcast Music Tonic Music Ltd

'For Music' Peter Broderick

'Her Song' / 'Getting Weird' Guy Wood / Jo Wills

Music Producer Susan Stone

Broadcast Lead Sound Studio & Wave Studios London

Sound Design

'For Music'

Sound Designer & Mixer Jack Sedgwick

'Her Song' / 'Getting Weird'

Sound Designer & Mixer Joe Mount

Broadcast V/O Sound Studio Sonic Union

Sound Engineer Steve Rosen / David Papa


'Kiss' Marcus Haney

'Getting Weird' / 'Subway' RJ Shaunessy

Interactive Production Companies My My Star, Squarewave

Print Production Company Portfolio One

Stylist Imogene Barron

Set Design Abraham Latham

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.