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Spotify to offer original programming, will debut 12 music-themed shows
The streaming service is dipping its toes into the world of video.
Former VH1 President Tom Calderone joined the company in March as the global head of content partnerships, and this rollout is the executive’s first initiative to address his belief “that the Spotify audience has a strong connection to artists and wants to go deeper into their worlds, see their performances and expressions, and hear their stories.”
Here’s what to expect from the new series:
- Rush Hour: An up-and-coming hip-hop artist and a popular hip-hop artist are picked up in a van during peak Los Angeles rush hour and must remix or mashup one of their well-known tracks before reaching their destination. The van drops them off at a downtown L.A. parking lot stage (that happens to be at Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital offices), and they perform their new song for a live audience of superfans.
- Landmark: Each episode explores the story of an important music history moment through exclusive interviews, archival footage, and multimedia. Every episode will also have an accompanying longform podcast as a “bonus features” reel, with even more analysis of songs mentioned in the episode.
- Focus On…: For this series, Spotify will use its usage data and statistics to identify a popular band in a key market and have it play an exclusive show for fans. Each installment will include segments profiling the fans and music culture of that particular region.
- Public Spaces: This docuseries will feature interviews with artists about their most notable performances in public spaces. Macklemore will speak about performing in Union Square and A$AP Rocky will explain what it was like to play at the Brandenburg Gate.
- Drawn & Recorded: This animated series will explore a different story from music history in each episode, featuring narration from T-Bone Burnett and animation from Drew Christie. Think Pitchfork’s “Frames.”
- Rhymes & Misdemeanors: This true-crime series will profile a different notorious crime from the music world in each episode. Topics include “the PCP-fueled cannibalism of rapper Big Lurch” and “the murder-for-hire plot hatched by the singer of metal band As I Lay Dying.”
- Life in Short: This anthology series will aim to celebrate music’s most enigmatic artists. Each 24-episode season will cover a single artist, and each episode—which lasts less than two minutes—will employ a different narrative device (like animation, documentary, or tribute performance) to highlight a key aspect of that artist’s life.
- Trading Playlists: Cameras follow two celebrities as they trade Spotify playlists for a day—and learn more about each other in the process.
- Singles: Think MTV’s Unplugged. This series will be shot in Spotify’s New York studio, and will feature “intimate, low-fi” performances from your favorite artists.
- Ultimate/Ultimate: This mockumentary series from Tim Robbins follows several contestants in a competition to become the next great EDM star. Like Best in Show but for DJs.
- Generations: This performance series will pair two generations of hip-hop stars together to create new versions of their most notable songs.
- Flash Frame: A monthly series that will showcase A-list artists performing at Spotify’s NYC office and splice in animation, archival footage, or other video to build an updated music video.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.