Cannes Lions

Beat of a Billion


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India is home to a diverse population whose music listening preferences were strongly rooted in Bollywood (music produced by the film industry) and regional music. Local streaming players were taking advantage of this by hammering in their strong collection of Indian music. Spotify, being a global brand was at a severe disadvantage. It was imperative for the brand to be perceived as relevant.

The Challenge: How do we show that Spotify has the capability to understand the music tastes of 1.35 billion Indians?


Spotify’s launch in India was to kick-off with a music video. Needless to say, the soundtrack had to make every Indian groove to the beat. Instead of playing it safe and relying on ever-green hits, we decided to use the brand’s expertise in decoding music consumption patterns to create a soundtrack that was loved by billions.


The Beat of a Billion

We recruited Indians across age-groups, socio-economic backgrounds and music preferences, and played them a compilation of top, trending hits across the ages. We then used different data techniques to identify that one musical beat that resonated across the board, using that to build our launch soundtrack.


We wanted to showcase how Spotify, a global music app, has the data capability to understand the music listening behaviour of over 1.35 billion Indians. Which is why, when it came to finding the right track for the launch video, we didn’t want to take any chances. India releases over 100,000 music videos each year of which only 2,500 are hits. That’s a 0.025% chance of a hit. We decided to craft our own soundtrack, one with a distinctive beat that was bound to get everyone bopping their head to it.

We narrowed our target audience to two segments –

• Young International Streamers: 15-27 years old habitual music streamers who had likely heard of Spotify from their global counterparts, through their travels or via pop culture

• Urban Streamers: 20-35 years old local music streamers who have an affinity for Bollywood and regional music.


We invited a group of Indians across age-groups and socio-economic backgrounds. Most importantly, they had to have different music listening preferences. We hooked them up to a system and played them a compilation of India’s favourite, trendy hits,

As the music played, we analyzed their brain reward system. By monitoring dopamine levels, we were able to pick out those parts that gave them a high. Our team of sound engineers then fed those select music samples into an algorithm, breaking them down in terms of instruments, beat progressions, and chord patterns.

The highlighted commonalities were ‘rehumanized’ from raw data form and analyzed for that one distinct beat, which was given to our music director who built the soundtrack. Once the music was ready, we integrated it with our video and released it on various social media platforms.


The ‘Beat of a Billion’ soundtrack was a resounding success, and was played over 10 million times on social media. It was a part of the online conversation, spawning Spotify memes and memes about memes, resulting in over 155000 engagements. The track found its way to its very own playlist titled ‘The Beat of a Billion’, with other tracks sharing the same beat.

Following the launch, Spotify’s app downloads rose to a record breaking one million users within the first week. The response also had an effect on Spotify’s global stock value, kicking it up by 4%.

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