Digital Media

Spotify rocks the vote with weekly blasts of election videos

The music service, touting 21 million US listeners under 35, has the attention of the largest voting demographic in the 2016 election. Spotify wants to use its sway to get young people to the polls.

Spotify's election-issue series includes a segment about student debt that features DJ and music producer Diplo (second from right).

Spotify

The sprint to dominate music streaming isn't the only race commanding Spotify's attention.

The streaming music service on Tuesday launched a weekly series of video and podcast-like clips, aimed at educating young US listeners on election issues.

"Music and social issues have always been linked -- music both reflects the culture in which we live but also helps shape it," Kerry Steib, Spotify's director of social impact, said in an interview.

The move is a reflection of the influence a media company like Spotify holds over individuals, particularly millennials, which Spotify defines as people 34 years and under. Millennials represent the biggest voting demographic in this year's election, eclipsing baby boomers for the first time. They also make up 21 million of Spotify's US listeners, according to Steib.

"We wanted to make sure we were using the power of our platform to encourage young people to get out the vote," she added.

Spotify's "Clarify" series, which include collections of videos and audio-only clips, will focus on a different musician and central topic each week. The first collection features DJ and music producer Diplo, who discusses student debt. Rap/metal group Prophets of Rage will discuss the economy in a future installment, and hip-hop artist Talib Kweli will weigh in on guns in art in October.

The series will also hit on topics such as education, immigration and civil rights. It is hosted by Baratunde Thurston, a best-selling author and former producer of "The Daily Show."

"Clarify" isn't the first original video effort by Spotify, the Sweden-based company that operates the biggest subscription music service worldwide by members. The company has been posting its own music-related videos and licensing clips from established publishers since May.

Can Spotify remain neutral?

The political mission of "Clarify" may open Spotify up to criticism of bias. But Steib said that Spotify's series will provide a straightforward presentation of candidates' proposals.

Hailing from a country with a long history of liberal politics, Spotify has adopted employee policies in its US operations considered left of center, such as generous parental leave. The first collection in the "Clarify" series discusses Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in one clip. A second clip says Spotify reached out to his campaign to participate but then doesn't mention him further. Four of the five clips discuss Democrats, between mentions of President Barack Obama, presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former candidate Bernie Sanders.

The series also includes one video, titled "The Candidates on Student Debt," with the statement that Spotify doesn't endorse any candidate or receive payment for the program.

The company is also launching free live events in eight cities to complement the online series, which will include art installations and panel discussions about the week's topic. The first will take place Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. The city is the capital of a swing state in the election.

"Clarify" is available on Spotify via its mobile app and desktop program, regardless of whether you're a free or paying listener, but it's only available in the US. New collections run every Tuesday through Election Day on November 8.