Spotify is diving headfirst into original video by making 12 TV-style shows


Shawshank Redemption Tim Robbins Morgan Freeman

"The Shawshank Redemption"

Spotify, the most prominent on-demand music streaming service, is diving into TV-style shows by making 12 of its own. These shows will feature the likes of rap mogul Russell Simmons and Oscar-winner Tim Robbins, and will be available to all of Spotify's 75 million users.


Spotify hopes to use video both to grab new customers and make users spend more time with the product, according to Bloomberg. The shows will stick close to Spotify's DNA, and center on music - though this could span live performance, history, or seep more into general pop culture.

"We are developing original content that is rooted in music, pop culture, and animation that is driven by the passion and sense of humor of our audience," Tom Calderone, a veteran of Viacom who heads up content for Spotify, said in a release.

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This isn't the first foray Spotify had made into video. Last year, it debuted clips from places like Comedy Central, ESPN, and BBC, on the platform, and the company added a dedicated "Video Shows" section to its app in January. But so far these initiatives haven't made much of a splash with users.

But Spotify is doubling down.


"We have to figure out a second act," Calderone told Bloomberg. "And I think it will come out of video. The idea is to make sure users know they can come here for something other than playlists."

This upcoming crop of show is just the first step. Spotify plans to break beyond music soon, creating comedy and animation series "tailored to the service's young audience," Bloomberg reports.

Here are Spotify's descriptions of the new shows:

Rush Hour - Two hip-hop artists (one legend, one young buck) are picked up in a van during the height of LA rush hour. As they drive to an undisclosed location they must come up with a remix or mashup of one of their well-known tracks. Once done, they arrive at the downtown LA parking lot stage of Russell Simmon's new company All-Def Digital, where they perform their new collaboration (as well as other songs) before a crowd of raucous super fans.

Landmark - Comprised of exclusive interviews, archival footage, and unique multi-media elements, each episode of Landmark brings to life the story of an important moment or movement in music history. Each installment is accompanied by a long-form podcast giving in-depth analysis of specific tracks.

Drawn & Recorded - Featuring narration from Oscar-winner T-Bone Burnett and stunning animation from Drew Christie, each episode of Drawn & Recorded tells a remarkable anecdote from music history. The stories will range from introspective to comic, and feature artists from across the music spectrum.

Life in Short - Life in Short is an anthology series celebrating music's most enigmatic artists. Each 24-episode season covers a single artist and each sub-2 minute episode uses a different narrative device (animation, documentary, tribute performance) to highlight one key aspect of the artist's life. Episodes will run the gamut from funny to inspiring, to somber. Each episode is designed to live on its own but, if watched as whole, the series will provide unique insight into the subject.

Trading Playlists - Two celebrities trade Spotify playlists for a day, in the process discovering new music, learning a bit about each other, and highlighting all the ways music is tied to identity and culture.

Singles - Shot in Spotify's brand new, state-of-the-art music studio in NYC, this series gives viewers fly-on-the-wall access to artists as they record new takes on their most well-known songs. SINGLES will have a super-intimate, almost "low-fi" feel. While the series will have a consistent look, visual elements will be tweaked to align with each artist's sensibilities.

Rhymes & Misdemeanors - In each episode of this true crime series, we profile a notorious crime from the music world. From the PCP-fueled cannibalism of rapper Big Lurch to the murder-for-hire plot hatched by the singer of metal band As I Lay Dying, we'll get the full story of how some of music's biggest and most promising acts went tragically down the wrong path.

Ultimate/Ultimate - From Academy Award winner Tim Robbins comes Ultimate/Ultimate -- a comedic, mockumentary series following several passionate (but modestly talented) people competing in a competition to become the next great EDM star. From pint-sized phenom DJ Sparkle, to frat brothers channeling their inner Daft Punk, the series explores the hilarious, endearing and absurd lengths people will go to to pursue their musical passions.

Generations - In this unique performance series, two generations of hip-hop stars come together to create new versions of their most notable songs. Each installment of the series will feature musical performance along with documentary segments about the experience..

Public Spaces - Each installment of PUBLIC SPACES features a notable act performing in one of the world's great public spaces. Whether it's Macklemore in Union Square, or A$AP Rocky at the Brandenburg Gate this series will redefine "music for the masses.

Flash Frame - Flash Frame is Spotify's rejuvenation of the music video format. Once a month an A-list act will perform at Spotify's New York City office. The show will be captured on video. After the fact, additional visual assets will be sourced, shot or created (animation, archival footage, additional video production, etc.) and intercut with one of the performed tracks to build a narrative around the song's theme. Music video directors, animators, CG artist and other creative trendsetters will be tapped to help craft each distinctive episode.

Focus On… - FOCUS ON is a data-driven performance series that lives at the intersection of music, culture and Spotify. Spotify will identify a popular band in a key market, and have them play an exclusive show for Super Fans sourced through Spotify's data. In addition to the performance, each 5-segment installment features segments profiling the fans and the music culture of that particular locale.