The creative challenge of Spotify

Increasingly I’m being asked to record ads that will be broadcast on Spotify. (For those who don’t know, Spotify is an online music sharing site, partly funded by advertising). Recording material like this offers a few creative challenges to the copywriter and the voiceover (and probably the producer too).

Medium

It’s easy to forget the natural environment of the Spotify ad. The user is at their computer in their own personal space, working or just chilling out, while listening to music they’ve personally selected…and unless they’ve paid the premium fee, they’ll hear occasional adverts popping up between the songs they’re enjoying. Now I reckon this will have one of two effects: they’ll either really become engaged in the commercial and enthusiastically listen to it and embrace the sales message imparted therein with a full and glad heart…or they’ll secretly hate it and wish they could get on with listening to their fave Jedward track (or whatever).

In all honesty, as much as I love the world of advertising I rather suspect the first scenario is a fantasy that only exists in a marketing exec’s panting imagination. The intrusive nature of adverts interrupting an emotionally charged musical experience might, I suspect, rather cheese the user off…unless the advertising professionals involved in the production of the ad are mindful about what the user will take from the ad.

Technique

Achieving the balance of a non-intrusive sales message is a tough one to pull off. The ad still needs to work for the client in a tangible and meaningful way. It means the copywriter might have to adopt a gentler approach and the shouty-shouty ‘buy it NOW, you fool’ angle might fall on stony ground in the intimate medium of Spotify. And of course the voiceover should remember that the notion of ‘broadcasting’ on Spotify is a subtle one; you’re talking to the listener in their private space in a more one-to-one way than any other medium I can think of. The Spotify experience is unique as the chances of another user listening to the same stuff as the userat the same time as the user is a helluva long shot. It’s this feeling of an ‘exclusive experience’ that shouldn’t be forgotten when making Spotify ads. It doesn’t mean that the ad should be ‘beige’ – it just means it should be more mindful of the ad’s natural environment.

Guts

But to make a great Spotify ad takes courage. The client must trust the copywriter, sales exec and the producer here – something that’s difficult for them to do in these cash-strapped times where every buck needs a bang. The copywriter must change tack and stretch their creativity in a fresh new way. And the voiceover needs to relax their reliance on their usual vocal techniques. In the medium of Spotify, an old schema just won’t work very well.

Style

For my money, the style adopted should be friendly but not cloying, assertive but not pushy, conversational and not cheesy. These days consumers are being sold at from the moment they wake up in the morning. There are ads everywhere – in print, on the radio, on the telly, on banner ads on mobile phones, on billboards – people can’t MOVE for adverts. And I reckon a lot of people have got ‘advertising fatigue.’ Because of the economic downturn people are less willing to be explicitly told what they should spend their money on and as such, consumers have become more media savvy. They just switch off if an ad doesn’t float their boat. It sort of becomes filtered out.

So when making commercials for Spotify, it’s worth remembering that sometimes less really is more.

Excuse me, would you like to rent my mouth?

the unsaid word

You can’t make an omelette without breaking…

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Emma Clarke

Emma is an award-winning voiceover, broadcaster and writer. Want to find out more about Emma?
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