Sometimes the best marketing PR stunts aren’t marketing PR stunts at all. Black History Month was last month, but this week Spotify announced a new initiative that brings to life a common refrain heard every February: that black history shouldn’t be confined to just one month, but celebrated and acknowledged year-round.
Black History Is Happening Now, created by Spotify and Saturday Morning Co., includes a new content hub where artists, creatives, and organizations that are working with communities of color will tell stories through curated playlists, videos, and podcasts. Janelle Monáe is the first artist partner for the project, curating a list of her musical inspirations, as well as a doc on the history of Afrofuturism directed by Daisy Zhou.
Black History Is Happening Now also goes beyond the content you might expect from a brand and platform like Spotify. The company is now taking applications for its new the Black History Is Happening Now Fellowship, an entry-level position for a young person passionate about black history and culture to work in Spotify’s Shows and Editorial department. It’s also offering a four-day Sound Up Bootcamp in New York City, a program for 10 aspiring female podcasters of color.
Jackie Jantos, Spotify’s VP of brand and creative says the idea initially grew out of its employee resource groups for people of color, which saw a larger opportunity for storytelling on its platform directly connected to black history.
“It’s no secret that brands try to leverage what’s happening in culture to connect with an audience,” says Jantos. “Spotify is a company that values transparency. Behind what we do as a brand to support artists or their fans on our platform, is a team of people who want to create more than great content. For us, having tangible programs that support communities through music and our platform creates more change than just releasing content or marketing in isolation.”
Twitter’s global group creative director Jayanta Jenkins, who founded Saturday Morning Co. last year with R/GA L.A. executive creative director Geoff Edwards, and 72andSunny executive creative director Keith Cartwright, says the goal was to make the acknowledgement and celebration of black history, culture, and contribution a brand behavior over just another one-off stunt.
“It’s so important because when you begin to go into communities and activate these things in meaningful ways, you’re demonstrating your commitment to the belief you’re articulating in your communications,” says Jenkins. “I think what’s so amazing about Spotify, and why this is so important, is because it really shows a very authentic and dedicated approach to this idea of, not only celebrating Black History beyond February, but going into communities and using music and their resources to inspire young people.”