By Heather Clancy
May 10, 2016

Erin Griffith is a writer at Fortune.

Spotify launches a lot of things that don’t stick. Said things are often revealed at elaborate, highly produced pitch events where male models serve haute breakfast foods and high-profile musical acts like D’Angelo perform.

Take, for example, the company’s “open API” launch from 2011. Partners like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Billboard built apps inside Spotify. These apps were meant to help Spotify’s users figure out what to listen to and find out about concerts. The apps are now gone. Instead, Spotify has built its own music discovery tools.

Another abandoned project: Spotify Landmark, the company’s foray into original content. In 2013, Spotify touted a series of radio interviews about Nirvana’s In Utero album alongside the 20th anniversary of its release. Landmark published a total of four projects; its website is now defunct.

A year ago, Spotify held another flashy launch event to announce it would now host videos from Comedy Central, MTV, ESPN, and others. The company has followed through—clips from Inside Amy Schumer, Vice News and BuzzFeed are available in the mobile app. But as happened with its music discovery tools, Spotify ultimately opted for the DIY approach. The company on Monday announced plans to produce 12 original video shows. It is even reviving Landmark as a show (or in the words of a publicist, “evolving” it).

Spotify’s slate of programs feature elaborate concepts, like solving true crimes from the music world, a Tim Robbins mockumentary, and Rush Hour, which sounds like a series of logistical nightmares. Here’s the concept:

Two hip-hop artists (one legend, one young buck) are picked up in a van during the height of LA rush hour. As they drive to an undisclosed location they must come up with a remix or mashup of one of their well-known tracks. Once done, they arrive at the downtown LA parking lot stage of Russell Simmons’s new company, All-Def Digital, where they perform their new collaboration before a crowd of raucous super fans.

Spotify’s hype machine can get tiresome, but at least the company—which is 10 years old and under pressure to go public and turn a profit—isn’t afraid to experiment.

Erin Griffith
@eringriffith
Erin.Griffith@fortune.com

This essay is part of “A Boom With a View.” Find past editions of Data Sheet.

 

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