Spotify has announced a new initiative, Frequency, a global effort that cultivates a holistic destination for celebrating Black art, entertainment, creativity, culture, and community both on and off-platform.
The new content, cultural partnerships, and ambassador program will connect the Black community to upcoming and established Black creators.
Speaking with The Source, Spotify’s Head of Hip-Hop and R&B, Artist and Label Partnerships, Sydney Lopes, highlights the importance of the Frequency program.
The SOURCE: Spotify often creates innovative and inclusive programming across music content. What marked this as the proper time for Frequency?
Sydney Lopes: I can’t think of any better time than now to push an initiative that is built to support total Black expression. The past few years have been increasingly tough when it comes to Black communities, given the rising visibility of civil unrest, and new attention brought to the historic patterns of Black creators’ contributions in music and culture going unnoticed and uncelebrated. We wanted to put something out in the world that, one, to a certain extent addresses these issues with honest conversations while providing resources to the community and two, most importantly, provides a holistic destination that truly celebrates and uplifts while supporting and amplifying the vast, creative content made by Black artists, podcasters and more. It took us some time to fully pull it together, and Frequency is still evolving as we learn more about the needs of the community and collaborate with talent to provide a way to meet them. And while Frequency is Spotify’s way to support this important cause, it is also a call to action for everyone to learn more and honor the wide spectrum of contributions made by the Black community as a whole.
Frequency’s team is composed of Black talent. How did you all go about selecting each member to fulfill the vision?
From before its inception, Frequency, at least the need for it, was an important initiative for Spotify. We’ve been doing this work at varying levels with past campaigns and initiatives. Many voices — both internal and external came together to discuss what this could be. We knew we had to pull together people from all avenues in the business – from playlist editors and marketers to producers and more – who could also understand the importance of the initiative on a personal level and directly lend their expertise to each layer of needs we identified across the industry. Frequency would not be what it is without the creativity and support from the full team having open and honest discussions. I am glad to work with each of them on bringing Frequency to life.
Frequency comes alongside the Black History is Now initiative. Will there be additional commitments made to Black culture?
Yes. We recently announced our Raising the Frequency: Ambassador Program, a program spearheaded by notable Black executives in the industry using their creativity and resources to further the narrative for Black artistry and translate this work through music and podcasts – all to further Frequency’s mission in using the power of audio to uplift, build bridges, and redefine culture. For this year’s ambassador program, we are excited to work closely with Archie Davis, RCA’s SVP of Marketing and A&R, Eve Fairley-Chickwe, AWAL’s A&R Director, Monique Blake, General Manager of Swizz Beats productions, and Tommy Brown, American Grammy and ASCAP Award-winning producer.
Later this fall, we will be launching official rollouts under this ambassador program which includes a scholarship fund for Black college students and future audio industry leaders, donation matches to community organizations of our ambassadors’ choice, and a Frequency Songwriting Camp bringing ambassadors, artists, producers and songwriters together for creative development and opportunity.
What are your personal hopes for Frequency while working on this program and what do you hope the receiving public to see out of the product?
I was present at the inception of this collective group coming together, when the George Floyd protests took over the airwaves. We knew we needed to do more in support of the Black community and the creators we work day in and out with. Being tasked with road-managing and guiding the creative vision behind the brand identity, providing industry insights from previous campaign experience to inform the content strategy, and leading the creative outreach and discussions with artist teams, I have been entrenched with Frequency, so it is very important to me that we fulfill the mission we set out to do.
I hope that Black artists that have felt boxed into a specific space or felt that their story was misinterpreted will find that this brand works to eliminate that. Not only will this provide more opportunity to partner with Black artists across genres, we hope that the content genuinely speaks to the brand’s intention – to showcase and celebrate all that is authentic to Black culture within music and podcasts. I hope artists and listeners that come from every shade of the Black experience recognize that there is a team at Spotify listening, and working to make sure their experiences and/or interests are represented both on and off platform.
We have playlists that have come from Frequency already, what other content will music fans be able to enjoy from their phones in the coming months?
We are constantly working on new content and new collaborations across our flagship playlists including This is Frequency, House Party, paying homage to the cultural shift of the Black nightlife experience, and Ripple Effect dedicated to the underserved genres/artists that influence mainstream media, podcasts, and more. We’re eager to share some of the surprises we have coming up from the Frequency umbrella, but music and podcast fans can expect new content that will both enlighten and provide moments of celebration. Be sure to keep on the lookout!