How Spotify’s Director of Social Impact Is Connecting Music Lovers With Causes

Kerry Steib brings lessons from her time in marketing

Steib recommends that organizations identify what they really care about. Scott Gries
Headshot of Sami Main

When you first hear Kerry Steib’s job title, director of social impact at Spotify, you might think it entails monitoring large social media campaigns. In fact, she coordinates Spotify’s global social good efforts and connects communities of music lovers, artists and activists.

Earlier in her career, Steib worked in marketing at major companies like AOL and Google, where she learned how to build scale while acting as a megaphone for nonprofits and social causes.

She joined Spotify nearly five years ago to build its sales development team before moving into product marketing. From there, she was inspired by the work and values that Spotify displayed as a company. “They believe everyone should have access to music and the power that music has in the world,” she noted. “There’s a ton of quality and inclusion right at the core of the company.”

Steib pitched a new role for herself that would allow her to turn those company values into actions. Now, three years later, Spotify has taken on social issues from a local level to a national scale.

At its annual SXSW house, Spotify last year worked with local middle schoolers in Austin, Texas, to help build a recording studio to add to the school’s growing music production program. Musical artist BJ the Chicago Kid even pitched in, with the help of his fans, to paint and customize the space.

During the 2016 election cycle, Spotify created a program called Clarify, which highlighted eight artists who spoke out about different social and political issues. The effort was intended to educate Spotify’s young U.S. audience about the importance of voting.

“We knew we couldn’t just tell them to vote,” said Steib. “We had to give them information and inspiration surrounding these issues that felt urgent and personal to them.”

Curriculum vitae
2012 – present
Director of social impact

2009 – 2012
Worked in business and product marketing for AOL Advertising.

2007 – 2009
Started as an assistant before becoming a marketing manager for branded entertainment and YouTube.

Job profile
At Spotify, Steib plans platform-specific programs and live events focused on bringing artists, issues and communities together. “Artists have always been closely tied to social change,” she noted.

How she got the gig
In order to expand Spotify’s values into actions, Steib developed a proposal that outlined the kind of work she’d like to be doing for the company. “I explained how this could be impactful for us as a business, what kinds of programs we could create, and why it made sense for us as a value-driven company,” she said.

Words of wisdom
For people looking to start similar programs at their own companies, Steib recommends identifying what the organization really cares about. “It’s easier to narrow down where, and how, you can be impactful,” she said.

This story first appeared in the March 13, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.