Spotify is staying committed to its promise to amplify Black expression. Since the inception of its global initiative Frequency, a holistic destination to celebrate Black voices, the world’s most popular audio streaming subscription service has prioritized the advancement of Black creatives with exclusive resources and tools. Not only is Spotify creating platforms for individuals to cultivate and share their creations, but they’re giving aspiring artists a first-hand look at the process.
Earlier this year, Frequency introduced The Free Studio as a creative space for Black creators at Spotify’s new downtown Los Angeles campus, At Mateo. The short-term creator studio was built in the historic Arts District to host nine Black creators across multiple disciplines.
The group comprised of several seasoned industry figures, and up-and-coming creatives including rapper Vic Mensa, Richie Reseda, and Indigo Mateo of Abolition X, producer Sango, recent TDE signee Doechii, multidisciplinary artist Shefon Taylor, dancer and choreographer Thom Kitt, host of “The Art of Letting Go Podcast” Mike Brown, and rapper Larry June. The pioneering experience was captured through a long-form documentary.
The film was shot and directed by Anthony P. Leslie of Equator Productions. It features “first-hand creator moments in The Free Studio that embody expression through recording studios, backdrops, dance studios, and more,” reads Spotify’s For The Record blog.
“The documentary explores each of these intimate podcasts and recording sessions and the authentic content and community created by Frequency – which consisted of recording studios, video backdrops, green screen areas, blank canvases, and more, providing a physical space to foster creativity from rising artists whose work is making an impact on mainstream culture,” the memo continued. “Frequency is part of a global initiative and holistic destination to celebrate Black art, entertainment, creativity, culture, and community both on- and off-platform.”
“This is a creator studio for the freedom of Black expression. Free Black expression for me is being unapologetic in all the unique ways we are, dancing to the beat of our own drum, sharing our color without boundaries,” director Leslie said in a statement.
“The one thing all of these artists have in common is that their experiences show up in their work. With the theme that we (Black artists) are all a work in progress and using our art as a form of expression throughout our respective journeys, I am looking to show raw moments that illustrate why exploring one’s self contributes to their creativity,” Leslie added.
Spotify acknowledges it wouldn’t be what it is today without Black expression, and that is why Frequency was created. However, how the organization manifests itself extends far beyond the confines of Spotify. Those efforts could be seen through social, experiential, cultural moments and more since launching the platform in May 2021.
As part of the initiative, the company created six new playlists including the flagship “This is Frequency” — which highlights new releases from both emerging and established artists — with the five other playlists covering country, rock, pop, indie, and dance and electric.
Other playlists include House Party and Ripple Effect that highlights Black regional music and allows users to learn about emerging artists and introduce talent to new fans every week. But, it’s more than just the music.
In their DMV campaign that aimed at celebrating Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) and the Black artists from that region driving the music culture forward, artists from around the area gathered over dinner from KitchenCray and Ohhs & Ahhs hosted by Spotify’s Black music editor, Domo Wells (Glenarden, MD).
Artists like Rico Nasty (PG County, MD), Ari Lennox (DC), Backyard Band’s Anwan ‘Big G’ Glover (DC), and Pusha T (Virginia Beach, VA) shared their experiences growing up in the DMV area that has birthed musical icons such as the “Queen of R&B” Ruth Brown, Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Missy Elliott, award-winning producer Pharrell, and more.
The group, a collective of seasoned and emerging rappers and singers, also highlighted the importance of giving rising artists a platform to showcase their work and prove that the DMV is a formidable contender in the industry. Frequency’s Ripple Effect playlist series uplifts Black artists like those mentioned above and many more in order to amplify their cultural power and value beyond their cities.
Since its establishment, Frequency has also offered ambassador programs, workshops, and the first of its kind Frequency Scholarships in its continuous efforts to provide tools to creators and invest in current and future industry power-players and leaders.
The playlists, educational resources, The Free Studio, and its accompanying documentary are just a few ways that prove Frequency’s brand ethos and commitment to investing in the careers of Black creators.