Marketing chief Neha Ahuja gives the deets of the campaign and why “music is best streamed ad-free”.
Drive back to 2001 when Dil Chahta Hai hit movie theatres. Everybody, after seeing the movie, wanted to go to Goa and everybody wanted to listen to the Dil Chahta Hai song while doing it.
“Kaisa ajab yeh safar hai. Socho toh har ek hi bekhabar hai. Usko jaana kidhar hai. Joh waqt aaye jaane kya dikhaye…”
These are perhaps the most famous lyrics from the early ‘00s and the moment “O o o ... o o o” hits the eardrums, gravity begins to loosen its grip, the body bobs up and down to the beat, and you will feel everything will be alright.
This is the power of music. But, Spotify India’s head of marketing Neha Ahuja feels music is facing an identity crisis.
“Wherever you play a very popular song like Dil Chahta Hai, the first thing that comes to your mind are the three actors and that should not be the case,” she exclaims.
There is nothing wrong in thinking about the actors starring in a song, but not at the cost of the artistes who’ve created it. This is the crux of the audio streamer’s new campaign Feel The Music.
“When I say the music of Dil Chahta Hai, you shouldn't go into the land of Bollywood actors, you should think of Shankar and Ehsaan and Loy,” remarks the head of marketing and further says, “I think it is time we think about how much of hard work and collaboration goes into making the music we love.”
Feel The Music has a set list of 34 artistes that includes the likes of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Sunidhi Chauhan, Arijit Singh, Badshah, Coldplay, BTS, Ed Sheeran, Pritam, Harry Styles, and Shreya Ghoshal.
The first piece of this campaign showed how the trio created the iconic sounds of the Dil Chahta Hai song. 17 million people have viewed the video since it was uploaded to YouTube on October 30, 2023.
A campaign of this nature from a digital audio streamer, on the first assumption, will have its roots in the online world. Think again.
Spotify India’s love relationship with billboards right from its debut in 2019 continues. This writer spotted countless black and white billboards of the artistes going to be featured in this campaign in Mumbai.
Ahuja argues saying it is a multi-media campaign but acquiesces to Spotify India’s love for billboards.
She, however, makes a valid point about this medium: “There is no point in taking six outdoors in Mumbai. You will be lost.”
The intent of taking out these billboards she explains was to create a story. “It is about the ability to generate the story through the billboards because I am talking to a user who is on the road.”
She also says whenever Spotify India takes the outdoor route, it makes sure the eyeballs go back to the digital medium. “While we start physical, our attempt is that ‘Hey, this should have its organic move to the digital environment.’”
The audio streamer in its debut campaign in 2019 put up contextual billboards that used hyperlocal relatable content to drill down the copy: There is a playlist for that.
It became part of the internet lingo then. Ahuja today sees a similar trend when people are clicking photographs of the billboards and sharing them online through their social media handles.
What is probably more eye-catching is the other medium of this entire multi-media campaign from Spotify India and that is the movies. The videos of the artistes are attached to movies like Tiger 3 and The Marvels. A 70mm release for the ads before the movie plays.
It is a very urban-centric campaign. “I would say we are a little bit more skewed towards the top 20 cities.”
Watch the video from start to finish, and you will see a mention of Spotify Premium. There is no call to action because Ahuja wants users to feel the music and stream music the way it should be streamed and that is “ad-free”.
Devraj Sanyal, chairman and CEO, India and South Asia, Universal Music, echoed the same when he shared photographs of the billboards on LinkedIn.
“Go premium and pay for your music. That’s the future for any market and India cannot and will not be any different. It costs less than an Americano at a coffee shop than it does to have a month full of legit music with so much more…” he wrote.
Many free users have taken to social media to criticise Spotify India for imposing restrictions on them in a clear attempt to nudge them to become paying users. Essential functions, such as shuffle, repeat, and the ability to skip forward or backwards within songs are now only available to paying users.
Spotify India’s premium membership starts from Rs 7/day for a single account to Rs 179/month for six accounts.
“We feel that the best experience comes when you stream the music ad-free, stream the music in top quality and you stream the music, you know, in a certain order that the artiste has put together,” remarks Ahuja.
Image gallery credits: Neha Ahuja/LinkedIn