I love you, Spotify, but you’re freaking me out. Today you showed off your first television commercial. It’s supposed to introduce the mainstream world to the wonder of listening to almost any song ever on demand. Yet with a useful product to sell and all the emotional resonance of music to lean on, the ad comes off vague, haunting, and devoid of soul. So much so I couldn’t help but parody it.
The commercial is called “For Music.” Your first sign that your ad agency Droga5 sh*t the bed was that there is essentially none. No music in the minute-long spot. Nothing to excite or remind us how thrilling music discovery can be. Just a long, dreary drone.
The visual language isn’t much better. An anonymized man crowdsurfing in the dark over an endless sea of throbbing humanity. It’s enough to trigger claustrophobic nightmares. Also, if you’ve ever had someone dropped on your head while you’re trying to watch your favorite band’s encore, you too will think of crowdsurfers as selfish distractions more than some symbol of liberty.
Then there’s the hollow voice-over. “Why can a song change the world? Because music is a force, for good, for change, for whatever. It’s bigger than us. It lives inside us.” Seriously, Spotify? Your mission to democratize access to music deserves better than this trite nonsense.
And anyone seeing this ad as their first taste of Spotify deserves better, too. Congratulations, you didn’t trot out a geeky feature list. But perhaps communicating that you can search for any song and listen to it in full for free would have piqued people’s interest a little better. You’re not Facebook, and you don’t get to have a weird, artsy “Chairs are like Facebook” commercial. Many people have no idea what Spotify is. And I’d bet that after watching your ad tonight during The Voice or whenever else, they still won’t, other than that you have something to do with music.
Or maybe zombies. That’s all I could think about while watching “For Music.” Droga5 has produced memorable spots for Puma, and even made Prudential insurance seem inspiring, so this is atypically terrible. The two additional commercials it made for you, “Her Song” and “Getting Weird,” are only little stronger. Still too subtle and lacking emotion, but at least they don’t conjure visions of the apocalypse.
Which is why I made this parody. Think of it as the internal monologue of what someone unfamiliar with Spotify might assume “For Music” was about. Again, this criticism comes from a place of love. Maybe next time an Internet company makes their television debut, they’ll keep it simple. Just tug our heartstrings and show us what you solve.