YouTube Music Campaign Shows How Music Touches Every Type Of Person

People from all backgrounds and cultures get to be themselves with their earbuds in.

WHAT: The new campaign from YouTube Music, the streaming giant’s music-specific app, which features five spots–each roughly a minute long–starring a widely diverse cast of people listening to their favorite music.


WHO: YouTube Music, Anomaly New York

WHY WE CARE: Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify all released ads in April in an attempt to carve out an identity outside of just “this lets you listen to music.” YouTube Music faces a tougher challenge than most, in that while the site is the most-used streaming service for listening to music, their dedicated music app isn’t as intuitive as simply Googling the name of the song and clicking the first link that pops up. So this campaign is important to them–and simply by representing the kinds of people they portray in the five ads here, they do a good job of being memorable and showing YouTube as the music streaming service of the people.

We’ve seen lots of ads in which people do their thing while listening to earbuds–Apple’s early iPod ads basically defined the genre–but what YouTube does well here is swap out an attempt to be universal with an attempt to be very, very specific. We haven’t seen many ads in which a young woman wearing a hijab raps the last minute of Blackalicious’ “Alphabet Aerobics,” or that are just a close-up of a crying woman on an airplane listening to James Blake and Bon Iver sing “I Need A Forest Fire.” The young person whose gender identity seems to be fluid who takes their inspiration from Big Freedia is a character who exists–but not one we spend a lot of time with in advertising, and all of this drives home the thing that makes music so great. The ads all land on the same line: “It’s not just what we listen to, it’s who we are,” and using music as a way to let us know who each of these diverse characters are is a clever way to let us know what YouTube Music is, too.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.