What New Ads For Apple Music, Spotify, And Pandora Say About Our Streaming Options

If you had to choose one music platform based on its advertising, which would it be?

What New Ads For Apple Music, Spotify, And Pandora Say About Our Streaming Options

This week, three major players in the music streaming game launched new brand campaigns in the latest battle for our hearts and ears. Well, you could say four if you count the lawsuit by a Kanye fan against Tidal over the exclusivity (or lack thereof) of Life of Pablo (because all PR is tied to brand image, right?)–but specifically, the new, non-litigious spots came from Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.


Now, if you were forced to list off all the differences between these platforms, what would they be? That Pandora is primarily a radio-style service? That Spotify has a free, ad-supported version? That Apple Music has Taylor Swift’s 1989? Anything else? Oh, there are plenty more each brand would be quick to list off, but to consumers, only the most noticeable are realistically considered when deciding on which option to choose. Beyond that is where we get into brand image and personality. Of course this may sound like a bunch of branded babble, but consider that each one of these new ad campaigns focus significantly more on our music feels than their product features.

What do these campaigns say about each brand? And if you had to choose one streaming platform based on its advertising, which would it be?

Spotify “Moving”

Here Spotify decided to use the political zeitgeist as a vehicle (a moving van in this case) to get across just how extensive both its music collection and curating algorithm is. As the presidential party primaries rage on, and that every-four-years threat of moving to Canada rears its toothless head, the brand looks North, showing us that it can make anything Canadian. Even your music tastes. It even launched a “Canadify” site, where you can enter your favorite artists, and it will translate that into corresponding Canadian artists. Taylor Swift, for example, gets Shania Twain and Carly Rae Jepsen, among others.

Brand Message: Hillary, Bernie, Trump or Ted, no matter your tastes in politics or music, we’ve got you covered. Also, we’ve got plenty of Bryan Adams.

Brand Personality: Snarky Librarian. You like your own carefully catalogued albums and playlists, but don’t mind a helpful and/or cheeky suggestion from time to time.

Pandora “The Next Song Matters”

A collection of music fans wax philosophical on the impact and influence of music on their lives. Earnest and emotional, with no product at all.


Brand Message: We really, really, really, really care about music, just like you. Just don’t ask us why you can’t play exactly what you want when you want.

Brand Personality: Lloyd Dobler. Your music is more about mood than specifics, just turn it on and see where it takes you.

Apple Music “Mic Drop”

With the second of a multi-part campaign to star Taylor Swift, Apple essentially mic drops its relationship with top artists–which also includes Drake, The Weeknd, Kenny Chesney, and more–by showing Swift having some carefully orchestrated fun with its product.

Brand Message: See, celebrities are just like you! And since they like our music service as much as they love our phones, so will you.

Brand Personality: Stylish Namedropper. You want it to sound good, you want it to look good, and you could totally be best friends with tay tay.


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.