Spotify Launches Original Video Programming With Russell Simmons, Tim Robbins & More


In an effort to stay one step ahead of the likes of Apple Music and TIDAL, Spotify first branched out into original content with an overhaul last year. Now the platform is taking things even further, introducing twelve brand new shows today. Spearheaded by former VH1 president Tom Calderone (who was hired back in March), the effort includes partnerships with Russell Simmons, actor Tim Robbins and Van Toffler’s Gunpowder & Sky.

A brief rundown of all dozen shows appears below. Those in the United States, UK, Sweden and Germany can find each program now — in both the free and paid premium tiers.

Rush Hour: Two hip-hop artists (one who is well-known and one up-and-comer) are picked up in a van during the height of L.A. 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 L.A. parking lot stage of Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital, where they perform their new collaboration (as well as other songs) before a crowd of super-fans.

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

Drawn & Recorded: Featuring narration from T-Bone Burnett and animation from Drew Christie, each episode tells an anecdote from music history. The stories will range from introspective to comic, and feature artists from across the music spectrum. From Van Toffler’s digital studio Gunpowder & Sky.

Life In Short: Anthology series celebrating music’s most enigmatic artists. Each 24-episode season covers a single artist and each episode (less than 2 minutes long) uses a different narrative device like animation, documentary or tribute performance to highlight a key aspect of the artist’s life.

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

Singles: Shot in Spotify’s new 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 with an intimate “low-fi” feel.

Rhymes & Misdemeanors: Each episode of this true-crime series profiles a notorious crime from the music world, including 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.

Ultimate/Ultimate: Mockumentary series from Tim Robbins follows 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: Performance series features two generations of hip-hop stars coming together to create new versions of their most notable songs. Each installment will feature a musical performance along with documentary segments about the experience.

Public Spaces: Docu-series about notable performances by artists in public spaces, including Macklemore in Union Square and A$AP Rocky at the Brandenburg Gate.

Flash Frame: Billed as a “rejuvenation” of the music-video format, monthly series will showcase A-list artist performing at Spotify’s NYC office. Each show will splice in animation, archival footage or other video to build a narrative around the song’s theme.

Focus On…: In this series, Spotify will use usage data to identify a popular band in a key market and have them play an exclusive show. Each five-part installment will include segments profiling the fans and the music culture of that particular locale.

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