Spotify is quietly moving further into original video, dropping on Monday a new series about the hip-hop industry called “The Break” — which plays from inside RapCaviar and other signature playlists on the music-streaming service’s platform, living among songs rather than other videos. It marks the latest push from the company to reorganize its video strategy, after stopping and starting different original series several times in the last few years.
The first episode of “The Break” features Tierra Whack, who talks about how her mentors have helped her experiment with her sound and style; other episodes feature similarly up-and-coming hip-hop artists Taz Taylor and LVRN. Per a press release, the series aims to explore the “impact of technological and social change within the music industry and the resulting ways hip-hop artists get their big break” and to shine a light on young tastemakers and industry trailblazers. It appears atop the RapCaviar playlist, which is one of Spotify’s tentpole features with 10 million followers, on both the desktop and mobile app for Premium users. Through a partnership with Sprite, Spotify is offering a separate but related video series to users on its free tier.
Spotify first launched video content in 2016 in a dedicated “Shows” vertical, but has since refreshed its strategy several times — including canceling some original shows like the Carpool-Karaoke-imitator “Traffic Jams,” rebooting other programs and testing video loops as song artwork. It officially started putting video into RapCaviar a year ago (promising views such as “2 Chainz visiting Dr. Miami to assist him with a butt-lift surgery”). The company replaced its chief content officer earlier this year with Dawn Ostroff, former president of entertainment at Condé Nast, after its “Traffic Jams” era failed to catch on with users, and its positioning of videos in playlists signals an interest in total integration; the clear hope is for the service to deliver video in a tailored, seamless way that’s popular enough with its audience to lead to a profitable venture down the line. As Spotify continues to bleed money from its high royalties payouts and low subscription rates, non-music revenue streams become increasingly important. RapCaviar, for one, is already on tour.