Genius Introduces Live Interactive Concerts

Genius Live is a new experience platform by that aims to fill the current void in live concerts due to COVID-19. Their first event will feature a headlining performance by Wiz Khalifa, who is donating all proceeds to the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP).

Genius is calling the event an “interactive benefit concert” because there are actions attendees can take throughout–some free and some for purchase–that will affect the show in real-time. After signing up for free, fans can vote on the setlist (free), join a private watch party ($10), ask for a shoutout ($100), and ask a question ($200). Fans can also chat with each other throughout the experience.

The event will be streaming on the Genius Live platform, as well as simulcast on YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and Twitch. While this is the only event Genius has announced so far, they plan to expand the program with more artists over the next few months.

Why It’s Hot

While many others have been experimenting with how to take in person experiences online at this time, the interactive nature of this event sets it apart from other livestream concerts, and gives the audience new ways to interact with their favorite artists that a large stadium event would not allow.


Columbia University researchers know why you chose that playlist

A new study out of Columbia Business School and Bar-Ilan University in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that you prefer the music of artists with personalities similar to your own. In other words, you like yourself.

Researchers studied the public personas of the most famous 50 musicians in the Western world, including Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Whitney Houston, The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, and Ozzy Osbourne. In two studies of over 80,000 participants, they found that the personalities of the musicians correlate with those of their fans. A third study of 4,995 participants showed that fans’ personalities predict their musical preferences as much as other strong predictors like gender, age, and features of the music.

Music shapes cultural interactions between individuals and groups, as well as influence listeners’ thoughts and feelings, so researchers sought out to understand the mechanisms of these interactions.

“The findings can pave the way for new approaches for record companies or music management to target and build audiences,” noted coauthor Sandra Matz, an associate professor of business at Columbia Business School.

Why it’s hot: As marketers, the findings of this study might not come as a surprise to us but is potentially a large driving insight when seeking to understand certain audiences mindsets, cultural influences, and motivators.

Source: FastCo

Spotify’s Wellness Routine

Spotify’s latest addition to curated personalized playlists is meant to aid people who are utilizing the platform for self-care as part of their new routines. Daily Wellness is a combination of songs and short-form podcast episodes that are refreshed twice a day — to ease you into the morning and wind-down at the end of the night.


As with their other “Made For You” playlists, the selection each user sees is based on their listening activity. Spotify also added tracks in between that explain what you’re about to hear, for example, “up next, a few songs for you,” and “now let’s take a break to hear some talk.” This way, the playlist truly feels like an interconnected experience meant to be listened to in order from start to finish to help you cultivate a new routine.

Aside from the rising need for wellness practices, Spotify may have been responding to how users are using the platform differently at this time. They noticed a change in people’s listening habits now that there is no commuting to and from work, noting that looking at the data, “every day looks like the weekend.” There was a decline in listening to longform podcasts in the mornings. They are seeing an uptick in streaming from TVs and game consoles and less from cars and wearables.

Why It’s Hot

For listeners, Daily Wellness is a smart use of personalized content to provide value in an organic way. For Spotify, it’s a good way to become part of their users’ new work from home routines.


Quarantine can’t keep Thao & The Get Down Stay Down down

From The Verge (emphasis mine):

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Oakland-based band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down had a problem. Their plan to shoot a music video for their single “Phenom” was abruptly canceled as shelter-in-place orders rolled in. The band, crew, and dancers could no longer meet up in person, and they were faced with a decision: put everything on hold or figure out a way to make the music video remotely. “At first we didn’t know if we would even release the song because it’s about people unifying,” Thao tells The Verge. “So it was never an option for me to shoot the video solo.” But then her manager had an idea. What if they shot the music video entirely within Zoom?

Featuring Thao alongside eight dancers, the “Phenom” video went from concept to completion within a week. There was one pre-production meeting, one five-hour rehearsal, and one shoot day, all of which took place on Zoom. “If we were going to do such a thing and commit to it,” says Thao, “we had to do it really quickly because it is so of the moment.”

Why it’s hot:

It’s cool to see creative people using the medium of the moment (video conferencing) to create art in a short amount of time. It goes to show that what’s most important is not having the highest production value, but connecting with your audience.

Using Zoom as a medium places the viewer in emotional proximity to the band, making them relatable, but the creative approach to choreography within the Zoom frames heightens the medium from mere communication to the level of art.

Source: The Verge

Spotify roles out pet playlists

Spotify can now generate playlists for your pets, with a new tool that claims to customize mixtapes to a critters’ species and personality traits.

The music-streaming service announced the feature Wednesday, noting that 71 percent of pet owners already play music for their pets.

The “Pet Playlists” tool allows users to choose between dog, cat, iguana, hamster and bird, then tell the platform how energetic or friendly their animal is to help Spotify “pick the playlist vibe,” the company says.

For instance, a playlist curated for a relaxed, curious and shy cat spits out 30 tracks including The Cure’s “All Cats Are Grey” and “Never Run Away” by lo-fi singer-songwriter Kurt Vile.

Spotify has also launched a podcast called “My Dog’s Favorite Podcast” that’s meant to soothe pups when their owners leave the house.

Sources: CNN Business, NY Post

Why It’s Hot:

Another example of appeal to people’s expanded passions, especially pet owners. Amazon has embraced it with pet profiles, and innovation in the category continues to grow.

scenes from stockholm’s underground…

Apparently big music venues in Stockholm have had a rough past few years, with many closing. So, Clear Channel created “Stockholm Underground”, using this trend as an opportunity to direct focus back to Stockholm’s local scene. Basically, it turned 300 digital OOH units in Stockholm’s metro (underground) into real-time guides on where local, “underground” acts were playing each day.

Per The Drum:

“Instead of displaying ads on Clear Channel’s 300 digital screens, the ‘Stockholm Underground’ music guide, will run as a real-time guide to encourage commuters to take advantage of local shows and up-and-coming artists performing at smaller venues.

Drawn from a database of upcoming live shows aggregated from online sources such as websites, blogs and Facebook events, with up-and-coming bands and artists also able to add their shows to the database, the initiative will give even the smallest acts a chance to reach up to one million people.

The data will then be used to direct commuters to their nearest local music show in the hours before it is supposed to begin.”

Why it’s hot:

Ads that aren’t ads are my favorite kind of ads. It’s a bold move for Clear Channel to reallocate all of its ad space to help promote local artists. It’s a good example of what can happen when a brand asks how it’s contributing to the community around it – whether local, regional, national, or global. As summed up by head of Clear Channel Scandanavia, “We are a natural part of the urban space and have both the will, and the responsibility, to contribute to making cities dynamic. Stockholm Underground is another example of how we are committed to doing so.”


Like Music To Your Thumbs –, TikTok, Ditty

Heard about the trend “Hit or Miss”? That’s from TikTok. There are similar platforms. “Depending on who you ask, it’s either an entertaining gathering place for younger and older generations or, well … incredibly cringey… For every spontaneous clip filmed by two college kids, there’s a jarringly artificial video of someone dressed superficially and seeking nothing but attention.”

Here’s safe ditty from an 11-year-old.

Why does this matter? Generation Z is all over it. They seem to inherently know how to capture a digital slice of life, edit it, add filters, special effects, a soundtrack, craft a promotion plan complete with catchy hook and hashtag. Brands attempting to reach them need to learn to think like them. One big setback is how brands think long-term. Their audience is thinking about right now. That has its pitfalls. Reference any number of fallen YouTube influencers. The pay off, if done well, can be huge. Tread carefully.

#Mute: Soon Spotify Will Let Users Block Problematic Artists

On January 3, an explosive documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly” was released on Lifetime. The six-part series resurfaced decades of abuse allegations against the popular R&B singer and within a weekend, the social media campaign #MuteRKelly was a top trending topic.

But as tweets and Op-Eds put pressure on R. Kelly’s music label to drop him and for police to investigate him, streams of the artist increased 116% after the doc aired.

Streaming services have been caught in the crossfire when problematic artists are allowed to still benefit financially from their art.  Spotify tried and failed to remove R. Kelly from the streaming platform back in 2018 when a Buzzfeed article leveled serious allegations against the singer.  The backlash was swift and Spotify was forced to re-instate Kelly’s catalogue when powerful artists like Kendrick Lamar rallied around the singer.

In the wake of a crop of new allegations and new investigations, what is the responsibility of a music streaming service when an artist becomes problematic?

Spotify’s solution this time, gives the ultimate veto power to its users.

Spotify is about to launch a feature within the app that will allow users to mute artists they don’t wan to hear on the platform.  The feature is currently being tested in the latest iOS version of the app.  The feature will allow a user to block an entire artist from playing.  That means content from a blocked artist will never play from a library, playlist, chart list or even a radio station.  Currently the block feature only works for content by an individual artist, but doesn’t apply to tracks that are collaborations that might feature that artist.

Read More: The Verge

Why Its Hot: In the social media age, a trending hashtag is all it takes to put pressure on brands and businesses.  And increasingly, brands are being asked to use their power to right wrongs, be that removing an ad from a controversial news program as in the case of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, or to remove controversial artists from their platforms.  This solution, if it takes off, may be a way for streaming services to side step having to take a public stand, but in the end give its users the final say over who they want to block…and #Mute.

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Talk about waiting to death….

Pharrell is in it for the long haul in promoting his latest single 100 Years, having taken the slightly unusual decision to set a release date for, er, next century. As in 2117.

Only then will your great-great-great grandchildren be able to jam to Pharrell’s 100 Years, which this weekend was locked in a safe for the next hundo years. The N.E.R.D frontman has linked up with Louis XIII Cognac for the venture, which is aiming to raise awareness about climate change.

The sole copy of 100 Years has been engraved on a clay vinyl made from soil that’s been extracted from the Louis XIII Cognac vineyard, and is now safely locked away, time capsule-style.

But there is a twist…if Earth continues on a path of destruction (aka Global Warming) the vinyl, and only copy of the track, will disintegrate and disappear forever


Why It’s Hot:

– Very interesting unique idea / partnership / twist on a time capsule

– Not sure how effective it will be at changing environmental policy, but works beautifully as a branded stunt

Spotify is testing a new voice search feature

Spotify is testing a voice search feature that lets users more quickly access their favorite artists, tracks, albums, and playlists. The feature, which appears based on a 2017 experiment involving a “driving mode,” has begun appearing inside the iOS app for a small number of users.

To access the new voice search feature, you tap the magnifying glass icon at the center of the bottom row of tabs. If you have it, you’ll see a microphone icon inside a white bubble in the lower-right hand corner of the screen.

So far, voice control appears limited to finding music inside inside Spotify’s vast catalog. Ask it “Who are the Beatles?” and it will start playing a Beatles playlist without telling you anything about the band.

Why it’s hot: This is a great step forward for navigation in app that has sometimes requires too much tapping and typing to get where you’re going.

Source: The Verge

Fender Just Eliminated the Need For Pedals and Stomp Boxes

The worst thing about being in a band is waiting for the guitarist to set up and adjust—and re-adjust, and then re-re-adjust—his collection of effects boxes and pedals. But it seems the biggest name in guitars is out to fix that. The Fender Tone app for iOS and Android manages thousands of pre-set guitar effects and delivers them via Bluetooth or WiFi to Fender’s new line of Mustang GT guitar amps.

Why It’s Hot:

Similar to other consumer technologies, Fender has built the amp so that it does not get outdated. Fender has built around an ARM computer processor system, and can use Bluetooth and wifi to send updates in the form of presets, hardware tweaks, and features whenever Fender has updates. The amp will continuously update as other sounds, new amps, and features roll-out through Fender’s offering creating a one size fits all system.

“If we release a new amp, we can do a simulation of it on this amp,” Kaplan said. The Mustang models come in three sizes, ranging from a small $250 tabletop practice amp, up to a $600 model that can fill a venue with sound. In testing out the Mustang, Kaplan said the team created simulations that the average player would be “hard pressed to tell apart” from the amps they were copying the tone of.

Spotify for Artists

Spotify For Artists is an app launching this week that gives musicians and their managers mobile access to super-detailed analytics about their music and the people listening to it.

The Spotify For Artists app takes some of the most useful insights about an artist’s music—which songs are most popular, how many streams they’re getting over all, where those listeners live, and which playlists are helping win over new fans—and boils them down into digestible graphical charts. It’s a bit like Google Analytics for rappers, electronic DJs, and pop stars.

This isn’t the first time Spotify has made this kind of data available. Spotify For Artists is a product that first launched on the web in April, after a private beta period. First, Spotify opened it up to all artists (the first big, on-demand streaming app of its kind to do so). Now it’s letting them access it on their phones.

The app also gives artists some control over their presence on Spotify, allowing them to do things like update their bios, post playlists, and select the “artist’s pick” track that Spotify lets them display on their profiles.

Spotify For Artists is part of a broader effort to build more artist-facing tools and ’empower’ them. The company also started a program called Fans First, which uses data to detect the most obsessive listeners of a given artist and target them with special offers like pre-sale concert tickets or exclusive merchandise. The company has also been working harder to strengthen its relationships within the music industry and among artists, in part by hiring former Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter.

Why it’s hot: This is yet another way in which Spotify is leveraging their data in an interesting and unexpected way. It is great to see them making it readily available for artists who can benefit from knowing more about their core users. Additionally, making it available on a mobile app vs. just desktop (as they launched in April) makes this an even more accessible and useful tool to the music industry.

Source: FastCo

Pop music’s new producer? Streaming platforms…

Hit-making songwriters and producers are tailoring tracks to fit a musical landscape dominated by streaming.“In sessions, people have genuinely been saying, ‘Oh, we need to make something that sounds like Spotify,’” says Emily Warren, a singer-songwriter behind hits including Charli XCX’s “Boys” and the Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down.” According to the artists, songwriters, producers, and executives interviewed for this piece, no aspect of a song, from production to vocal performance, is unaffected by the regime change.


Throughout the history of recorded music, formats have helped shape what we hear. For examplesur ideas about how long a single should be date back to what could fit on a 45 RPM 7″ vinyl record. But the unprecedented wealth of data that streaming services use to curate their increasingly influential playlists gives the industry real-time feedback on what’s working, leading to rigidly defined and formulaic music.

For example, in order for a stream to count toward chart tallies and, reportedly, for royalty payouts, a given song must be played for at least 30 seconds. That’s why, while how a song starts has always been important in pop, with streaming it’s more crucial than ever. Another element tying the streaming era’s music together is the way we listen to it: The phones and laptop speakers we often use can have a direct impact on the music that sounds best through them.

Read more here: Uncovering How Streaming Is Changing the Sound of Pop

Why It’s Hot
How technology advancements are shaping behaviors and expectations is always fascinating. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction!

Play music on your Oreos

Oreo is a popular snack around the world, but is apparently not so popular with Chinese teenagers. A media and creative arts team at Dimension Plus (agency based in Taipei and Hong Kong), combined Oreo cookies with something most teens love: music.

The result was ‘Oreo Vinyl’, tiny cookies embossed with miniature grooves that play music just like a vinyl record. These cookies are housed inside a cardboard pack, with each cookie playing the “Oreo Anthem” in a different musical style. The project actively involved teens by getting participants at the Strawberry Music Festival, a popular youth event held in Shanghai, to compose each of the different songs.

The grooves on the cookies were made with laser cutting and engraving machines. The cookies can then be played with the Oreo Vinyl Record Player contained in each pack.

Why it’s hot:

Oreo found a way to directly connect with their target audience both in the creation of this concept and in its deployment. This is an innovation that is both unexpected and functional that is sure to increase audience engagement with the brand.

Spotify keeps on rocking with partnership

There’s always one song that brings back memories of a really great holiday. This intrinsic link between music and travel is the idea behind’s new partnership with Spotify. And according to data, a large percentage of consumers are also Spotify users, meaning the collaboration appears to be a win-win for both brands.

The partners are producing a series of interactive maps, playlists and podcasts – each one linked to 10 different destinations.



Each city is broken down by area, with playlists bringing to life the distinct sounds of each one. For instance, East London’s playlist includes songs by local artists like Dizzee Rascal and Katy B. Alongside this, the campaign will include a series of podcasts, each featuring an international artist giving insight into the music scene of their home city. And each user will receive personalized recommendations aligned to their music and travel tastes.

Why It’s Hot
Spotify continues to set the bar for leveraging data in meaningful ways to deepen relationships with customers.

Headphones Up, Calories Down…

(start at 0:23, you can get the basic idea by about 0:45)

I think we can all agree that sugar is evil. Particularly in this country, sugar consumption has become a major source of serious weight and health issues plaguing many. And as our esteemed colleagues Karan and Liz shared with me yesterday, apparently even when you try other sweeteners to avoid it, the alternative is cancer. So, how can we get our sweet fix without risking some massive health related life event?

Rest easy, because based on University of Oxford research, Xin Cafe in China has created “Sonic Sweetener”. According to science, listening to certain sounds makes our brain think what we’re consuming is sweeter than it actually is. So, Xin Cafe worked with sound designers to create a cup with a headphone jack that plays the right notes while you’re drinking your beverage to make it seem as though you’re imbibing something sweet when you’re actually not (try out the miracle soundtrack for yourself here).

Why it’s hot

First of all, I’m impressed at such a seemingly lo-fi “tech” solution to a very serious, widespread problem. Sometimes it doesn’t take a massive innovation to meaningfully change the way we experience things in life. And obviously it’s one of the latest examples in what will be many many years of technology (some more progressive, some less) filling in the gaps where our humanity can fail us. Self-control is a great quality, but not one that’s always easily applied. What other human shortcomings could sound (or any other) technology help us with?

Instagram: A Platform for Music Enthusiasts

Nielsen conducted a study to quantify Instagram’s impact on music sales and found that Instagram users spend 42 percent on music, tickets, and merchandise compared to the U.S. population averages. Other stats revealed that Instagram users spent more hours listening to music than average for the U.S. and were also more likely to listen to pop. Interestingly, Instagram Music fans also were twice as likely to pay for streaming music. Find more cool stats around this key audience in the article!


Why It’s Hot: Brands with a target that index high in music or attending live events should look to Instagram as an effective channel to reach and engage with these consumers.

Remixed Remix

The right remix makes a old song feel new. And makes a new song feel even newer. Which is why trip hop duo Massive Attack has released a “sensory music player” app with its new EP.

The app is called Fantom, and it remixes and reforms music on iPhones based off environmental factors like a person’s location, movement, and heartbeat fed by Apple Watch sensors and HealthKit data. Each factor affects the music in a different way. Heart rate, for instance, changes the song cadence, while location affects harmonization.

Fantom is not a partnership– one of the Massive Attack band members was part of the team that developed the app.

Why it’s hot: remix albums have been around for awhile, and offer the same remix to every person. Why not algorithmically personalize it if you can? Screen-Shot-2016-01-21-at-11.52.12


Spotify Puts You In Touch with Your 80s Self…

Spotify Rewind

Musically, at least.

This week, Spotify launched a new digital microsite experience it called “Taste Rewind“. The premise is simple – you connect with your Spotify account (or sign up for one, although it lets you through even if you don’t log in or sign up), it asks you to choose three artists you love (from a set of curated artists based on your account), and then it takes a shot at what you would have been listening to in each of the last five decades based on those artists (and gives you links to a playlist of songs from each decade it thinks you would enjoy).

It’s certainly a fun experience, but I do wonder if a couple of things weren’t strategically amiss here:

1) I’m not sure discovery of music you like is Spotify’s strongest feature. I can only speak for myself, but I haven’t found their recommendations (ostensibly based on my current taste) to be terribly good (either that or I’m in denial about the music I listen to, which is also entirely possible). Although ultimately, I don’t suppose this matters as much, since I don’t know how much it matters in terms of driving sign ups (it’s more the access to the vast amount of music than anything else).

2) Their ultimate CTA (to drive awareness through social sharing) was to share THE experience, not yours or my experience, which would seem to make it all about Spotify. Wouldn’t I have been more interested in, and likely to share MY experience?


Why It’s Hot

First, I think it clearly hooked into the social trend around “discovery”. While I hate to reference Buzzfeed quizzes in any fashion, clearly one thing that we’ve seen people really enjoy in social are things that make “predictions” about them based on information they provide (ala Microsoft’s “How Old Do I Look?” or the awful “Who Is Your Soulmate” quiz that recently overtook my News Feed).

Second (and arguably more importantly), I think we could consider it part of what is a broader shift in digital around “people-centric” (personalized) experiences. Not long ago, Microsoft revealed data that suggested a majority of people are now willing to provide information about themselves if it means a better, more interesting, helpful, “intelligent”, etc. experience for them.


We’ve seen digital go from a vast expansive of random content and experiences, to a more curated form taking into account broad trends, and it seems now we’re moving more towards the personalization of digital, where experiences and information are designed around what we know about the people who seek them/it. After all, wouldn’t this be the ideal individual experience?

This isn’t anything new, but with new technology emerging daily to further facilitate it, I think we can expect its trajectory to increase, and it would seem to mean we should be designing digital experiences that are baked to be intelligent.

Now, if you’re wondering, here’s what Spotify thinks I would’ve been listening to in the 80s:Taste Rewind 80s

Guitar Hero goes Live

7239_0321_GHLive_Negative.0Everyone’s favorite plastic guitar game is coming back and it has a few updates for this new era of video games and music. Guitar Hero became popular in 2010 for its innovative play style that could make any average Joe feel like they are the lead guitarist in the hottest band around. It was also known for its amazing song selection that ranged from classic rock to current pop hits. Now its 2015 and the game is going on tour again and this time its coming back with some digital enhancements.

The new guitar hero is going to have the classic play style with notes coming down the screen with the player clicking and strumming each one to their favorite hits. This time the game will shed its cartoon like image in place of playing for real crowds. The new mode Guitar Hero live will have the player entertaining a real crowd with real reactions adding to the fantasy of being a rock star.

Another option rolling out with the game will be the Guitar Hero TV option which almost acts as playable spotify. The game will allow you to play up to hundred songs on their own streaming network at launch and will continuously get updated, similar to their old method of DLC.

Why its Hot!!

  • Its a new guitar hero game!!!
  • It uses all of the enhancements of the digital music world, like streaming, to enhance play-ability
  • Playable music network is an extremely cool concept and way to find new music and really interact with it


TIDAL: New High-Def Music Streaming Service

On Monday afternoon, celebs such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Madonna, Rhianna, Chris Martin and Nikki Minaj (just to name a few) gathered to announce the re-launch of TIDAL, a music streaming service. TIDAL is a high-definition streaming service that will compete with services such as Pandora and Spotify. Jay-Z is the majority owner while the other artists on stage all have small stakes in the company as well.

Unlike other music streaming services, there is no free tier for subscription. Therefore, we can assume there will be no disruptive ads on the platform as we see with other free streaming memberships, however this has not yet been confirmed. For TIDAL, users will have to pay $10/month or $20/month depending on the quality of music they prefer. Additionally, the player is available as both a website and an app (no desktop player) and can stream to a number of speaker systems. An added bonus – Tidal will offer the ability to save songs for listening without an Internet connection.

Another edge that TIDAL may have is the releasing of exclusive content and invitation to special events for paying members.

Why It’s Hot

With the domination of streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, we haven’t seen a potential game changer enter the market in a long time. The switch of focus from price to quality enables the brand to position itself as premium and perhaps not truly in competition with any other services. Next, having people with star power backing this service is major. For example, celebs that have had constant battles with streaming services may actually volunteer to have their music on Tidal. If this is true, we could see both artists that are stakeholders in Tidal or support its mission, releasing exclusive content (perhaps even entire albums) on the service. If Tidal can convince artists to do this, they could gain a huge advantage over competitors.

Read more here.

Huggies Turns to Pandora to Encourage Baby-Making for Valentine’s Day

huggiesFor Valentine’s Day, Huggies created a Huggies Baby-Making Station on Pandora for, playing tunes aimed at getting couples in the mood.

Think of it as a digital-age millennial version of the old make-out tape, replete with entries from Barry White and heavy on other R&B classics, including Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour.”

Millennials clearly need all the help they can get. The U.S. birth rate fell to 62.5 per 1,000 women ages 18 to 44 in 2013, the last year for which data is available, from 69.3 in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“I’ve been working on Huggies for five years, and one thing we’re always dealing with, project after project, year after year, is the declining birth rate,” said Chris Turner, group creative director at Ogilvy, Chicago. “Lately, we’ve been thinking about Valentine’s Day as an agile opportunity, and we kind of put the two together.”

“At Huggies, babies are always on our mind,” said K-C spokesman Bob Brand. “The partnership with Pandora is a fun-loving way to engage Huggies couples in the romantic spirit of Valentine’s Day.”

The Huggies station will play without commercial interruption on Pandora for at least a month, backed by ads on other Pandora stations and by social-media efforts through the brand’s accounts, Mr. Turner said.

Source: AdAge

Why It’s Hot

It’s interesting to see how brands are using Pandora for marketing, other than the banner and :15 spot. I think this is a creative approach to a brand awareness initiative, but I have to wonder what kind of return they expect to see.



Imagine Dragons and Target Win the Grammys with #MoreMusic

Target took a different approach to its Grammys advertising this year. Rather than opt for a traditional 30-second spot, the brand pooled eight 30-second media buys into a single four-minute commercial: A commercial break turned into a live performance by rock group Imagine Dragons.

Target’s VP of Marketing said the #MoreMusic campaign, launched this past week on the night of the Grammy Awards, gives the fans just what they want when watching the awards show: more music! In doing so, the campaign promotes the retailer’s exclusive release of the deluxe edition of the band’s upcoming album.

#MoreMusic literally gives fans more music: During the Grammys broadcast, viewers were treated to an additional live performance during a commercial break, and fans will get exclusive bonus tracks when they purchase the album from Target.

In addition, fans are also able to unlock bonus content on Twitter by joining the conversation with #MoreMusic.

Read more via Adweek and AdAge.

Why It’s Hot: What better audience to try to sell your new album to than viewers watching the biggest night in music? Imagine Dragons and Target made history with the first ever live ad to air in real-time during the Grammys. The #MoreMusic campaign lives on in rotation the week after the awards show, when the Imagine Dragons album is set for release.

With technology booming and us marketers having to be even more creative with ad content and media, this is just one of a list of infinite possibilities of connecting a brand to the consumer.

Apple to launch Spotify-like Streaming Service

Apple has plans to leverage Beats to build a Spotify competitor, according to 9to5Mac.The paid streaming music service will use Beats’ content and technology but get a new name and a fresh Apple design, according to anonymous Apple sources. The service’s target price will be $7.99 per month. In contrast, Spotify Premium comes in at $9.99 a month; Google Play Music does too, though it originally launched for $7.99.

The technology relies on cloud-based streaming, and there’s a search feature that will let you instantly look for songs in your iTunes library but also search for streaming music. Users will be able to select specific tracks to store on their iOS devices and/or computers, or keep all songs solely in the cloud. Apple will also deeply integrate Beats Music’s Playlists, Activities, and Mixes features into the new service, letting users access a vast array of pre-made, human-curated playlists to fit various activities.

Apple reportedly plans to launch the service sometime this year, possibly at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.


Why It’s Hot

According to anonymous Apple sources, this service will be “deeply integrated” into iOS, iTunes, Apple TV and will even be available as an Android app. Our clients have seen success advertising to “music enthusiasts” on Pandora and Spotify so this is something we should keep an eye on to explore potential advertising opportunities in the future.


March to the Beat of Your Own Robot

As if the music industry wasn’t competitive enough, artists may soon have to worry about more than just each other. With the help of a 27-year-old musical artificial intelligence student, robots may be ready to share the stage.

Mason Bertan, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is teaching robots how to make jazz music by breaking down jazz theory and musical improv into a programming language the robots are able to understand. Not only can these robots produce their own music, but they are also aware of their physical bodies and capable of moving them to the music. These aren’t giant, industrial machines but rather head-banging, foot-tapping musicians!

Read more via Mashable.

Why It’s Hot: We have seen robot technology in the home and in the doctor’s office, and now we’re seeing – and hearing – it in music too. These physical beings create music on their own, as well as listen to and understand it. Also, as Bretan points out, the algorithms that the robots use to create music relies on their physical bodies – in other words, “if you give the same algorithm to a different robot (like a marimba-playing robot with one arm or 10 arms), you will get different musical behaviors and outcomes.” Just as with humans, the creative options are endless.

As someone who prefers music produced more organically, I’m not sure how much we need music-making robots. And as is the case with almost every new fancy piece of technology, the necessity is a hot topic of debate: We may not need it, but it’s hard to deny that it’s pretty cool.

Jamstik, “The World’s First Smart Guitar”

I’ve been watching a lot of Shark Tank lately, and I’ve noticed a growth in self-educational products, especially in music. Jamstik helps you learn and practice guitar easily with a very portable hardware that you can connect to your smartphone.

Why It’s Hot: This is another cool product for DIY education, and it’ll be interesting to see how it partners up with brands. With increased usage of platforms like Kahn Academy, wider accessibility is becoming more realistic everyday.

MySpace Lives On, Thanks in Part to #TBT

If you haven’t heard, MySpace has had a bit a comeback. And though it may not have quite the $580 million luster it did 2005, the platform has had a resurgence.

According to its owner, Specific Media, MySpace:

  • Reached 50.6MM unique visitors in Nov. 14 (up 575% YOY)
  • Still has access to over 1B emails globally, including over 465MM in the U.S.
  • Has handled $5 billion in ad transactions for a set of beta advertisers Since launching the Advertising Cloud suite of products in the last seven months

The resurgence cannot be pinned to one action alone, but has instead been created by combining a number of variables:

  • Makeover into an arts & entertainment centric social platform
  • New found receptivity among young, niche audience (17-25s)
  • Repeat visits to find old photos driven by “Throwback Thursday”

MySpace knows it can’t build a social site on #TBT nostalgia, so it has invested a lot into cultivating a new audience and building a library of unique and sponsored content for them to consume.

Intrigued, I decided to sign up and explore the new MySpace.

When you arrive at the MySpace's new landing page, it almost feels more like an entertainment news site than a social platform.

When you arrive at the MySpace’s new landing page, it almost feels more like an entertainment news site than a social platform.

If you decide to register, MySpace has created a new user segmentation framework that caters to users’ specific creative backgrounds and interests. A note to those who register, if you choose to speed up the registration process by linking a Facebook or Twitter account be prepared to consent to a whole lot of data-mining. You also consent to give MySpace posting rights to share on your behalf… something I certainly was not willing to do at this stage.

New registration flow that segments users by creative interest.

New registration flow that segments users by creative interest.

The new approach to profiles is slick and feels distinct, albeit a little sparse. Important to note, “Tom” is no longer your friend.

Profiles feel quite different than most other social platforms out there.

Profiles feel quite different than most other social platforms out there.

But a new account should be sparse right?  So I went to create my first post. After selecting that I wanted to share a song, I searched for a track that (surprisingly) could not be found in MySpace’s library.



MySpace Post


I posted my track, but my profile remained a bare snare drum. Where did the post go?  Evidently into a new “Stream” feed that takes a typical “News Feed” and flips it horizontally. This creates a weird and confusing experience. Why wouldn’t my post appear on my actual profile?

MySpace's "Stream" attempts to create a content feed of posts and activity by users, including curated content. But the experience leaves something to be desired.

MySpace’s “Stream” attempts to create a content feed of posts and activity by users, including curated content. But the experience leaves something to be desired.

Why It’s Hot

So the new is major departure from its lineage. Focused on content catered to a niche community of artists, musicians and content creators, the site doesn’t feel like it’s made for everyone. And I think that’s part of its appeal. Specific Media has the business data to show there is still life in the faded platform, and with strong focus on content MySpace might be able to retake the sought after “creative” social arena. MySpace is certainly not the first to try its hand in this space, but for advertisers their mounds of user data may distinguish the platform from the competitors. But more than ads, MySpace needs to expand the reach of its rich content to beyond the walls of MySpace if it wants to break away from the site’s still tarnished reputation.

Uber and Spotify partner up

Uber riders can now blast tunes from Spotify during their commute. After hailing a car via the handy app, you can decide what music you’re in the mood for, and when the car arrives to pick you up, it’ll already be playing inside. You’ll need to connect that paid streaming account inside Uber’s mobile software to opt in, but doing so not only sets the music beforehand, but allows you to control it for the duration of the trip. The collaborative effort is set to launch on November 21st in London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm, Toronto and Sydney with a widespread rollout in the weeks that follow. Of course, the driver will need to connect their phone to the car’s stereo for you to take advantage, but Uber says those folks are excited about sorting your playlists. If the car you hail chooses not to play music, the option to play Spotify won’t show up in the Uber app.

Source: engadget

Why It’s Hot

Could Uber be more cool? They certainly are looking at their audience and developing pretty awesome initiatives, from partnerships with Starbucks and Amex, to stunts like UberWEDDING and UberKITTENS. In this case, it’s just a little more added value into an already sound pricing and convenience strategy.

British Airways matches in-flight food to music playlists

British Airways is due to start matching its in-flight meals with specific music tracks in order to counteract the fact that a person’s ability to taste is reduced by 30% while in the air. These pairings are based on a study that suggests some tunes can influence your taste buds, and they aim to help bring out the flavor of the food.

The airline’s new “Sound Bite” menu will be available on the “Rock and Pop” audio channel on long-haul flights from November. This 13-track playlist features music that has been carefully selected to go with each item on the menu, with the intention of enhancing the in-flight meal experience.

A study conducted by Professor Charles Spence and his team at Oxford University in the UK suggests that certain music can influence a person’s taste buds. This has been labelled ‘Sonic Seasoning’, with specific tracks seemingly able to make food seem up to 10% more sweet or salty.

British Airways’ chef Mark Tazzioli adds that the findings of this study to his list of considerations (which also included taste being altered at altitude) in order to create the new special edition menu. The “Sound Bite” playlist includes Scottish artist Paolo Nutini’s “Scream (Funk My Life Up)” to go with the Scottish salmon starter, Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” for a classic British main meal, Madonna’s “Ray of Light” for desserts, and “Nessun Dorma” by Placido Domingo to go with a cup of coffee.

The reasoning behind these tracks being selected were that Scottish musicians enhance the providence of Scottish foods, British music should be paired with British food, high tones boost the sweet flavors of puddings, and a tenor’s low tones suit the bitterness of coffee.


Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

It’s nice to see some innovation in customer service in the airline industry, and this “science” is quite interesting. It seems a little unnecessary, but maybe if you enjoy your flight just a little more, it’s worth it. There may be an opportunity (or potential hipster trend?) to try this in the mainstream restaurant industry as well.

Apple offers a way to ‘return’ that free U2 album

At the end of Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch announcement last week, the company trotted out the rock supergroup to announce a major marketing collaboration.

According to the New York Times, Apple spent ~$100 million on the U2 campaign.

The campaign consisted of Apple giving away U2’s first new album in 5 years, “Songs of Innocence,” to 500 million iTunes customers. For free. The objective was to get more people to sign up for iTunes.

But Apple didn’t just offer the album, it went ahead and dropped the album in all 500 million active iCloud accounts across 119 countries. The files would then make their way to the computers and mobile devices of users set up to automatically synch purchases.

This lead to many complaints of invasiveness and tone-deafness. Especially since the timing was shortly after iCloud’s security was scrutinized for its part in celebrity photo hacks.

One week after giving away a new U2 album to most iTunes users, Apple has announced a way for customers to get rid of it, reported CNN.

Why It’s Hot

Even the most visionary marketers can stumble, especially if they don’t keep the customer–their needs, their boundaries–front and center.