D&AD New Blood Awards

by Lynne Egwuekwe

D&AD New Blood awards 2021

The D&AD New Blood Awards give new and emerging creatives across the world a chance to showcase their talents by responding to real briefs set by major clients — from BBC to Disney to Tesco. The entries are then judged by industry creatives, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the Spotify Jury.

The Spotify brief asked entrants to explore ways of making the listening experience a social experience, by enabling people to share the audio that means the most to them. Entrants were tasked with creating features that would help people easily share content and get people talking about it on their social feeds.

As a member of the 10-person Spotify jury — which included two Spotify designers who had created the brief — I reviewed, debated and discussed 100s of entries from emerging creatives. Throughout, we asked ourselves three questions: Is it brilliantly executed? Is it a great creative idea? Is it on brief?

As an avid Spotify user myself, being part of the jury really made me think more about how I use the platform, what role music plays in my life, and the variety of ways I enjoy and discover music — from concerts, to soundtracks, to something as simple as a friend sharing a link to a new song.

All in all, it was a fantastic opportunity to see work from the next generation of creatives. As well as being a thought-provoking and inspiring experience, it also gave me invaluable insight into the perspectives of emerging creatives. When reviewing the entrants and reflecting on the ultimate winners, a number of strong ‘themes’ emerged — from a willingness to think differently about recommendations, to an urge to imagine post-COVID live music experiences — suggesting that the next generation creatives is more than ready to challenge and push forward our digital experiences.

Theme 1: Beyond the Algorithm

Credits: D&AD New Blood Spotify Brief Entry — Ear2Ear; Creative Team — Miguel Orrego, Raquel Sabido, Ignacio Roman Hernandez, Martin Perez, Nicolas Vazquez; Tutor — Damian Martinez; College — Miami Ad School Buenos Aires, Brother Ad School Barcelona

Spotify is well renowned for its algorithmic skill in recommending music to listeners. But it was interesting to see multiple entrants explore ways to make recommendations and the music discovery experience more human. From crowdsourcing music recommendations, to enabling users to discover new music through a feed of ‘stories’ posted by friends and artists, all of these concepts recognised that personal recommendations could be just as powerful as automated ones.

Theme 2: The Curator

Credits: D&AD New Blood Spotify Brief Entry — Spotify Mixtapes; Creative Team — Dominik Dzik; Tutor — Peter Thompson; College — University of Central Lancashire

The widespread use of social media networks has led to many of us living our online lives as not only consumers, but also creators of content. Having said that, it was interesting to see emerging creatives explore a third role in our online lives — that of being content curators. Entries explored the opportunity that curation offers for personal expression, with some entries going on to explore how curation could be a source of kudos and competition amongst online friends.

Theme 3: Sharing is Caring

Credits: D&AD New Blood Spotify Brief Entry — Spotify Snippets; Creative Team — Jelmer Heijligers; Tutor — Mark Brill; College — University of the Creative Arts at Farnham

Beyond enabling users to curate and recommend music within the Spotify platform, a number of entries thought about ways that users could directly share content from Spotify in external social media and messaging platforms. Whether sharing lyric quotes or audio snippets, these concepts demonstrated an expectation that users should be able to seamlessly move between digital platforms.

Theme 4: Live Music Post-COVID

Credits: D&AD New Blood Spotify Brief Entry — Spotify Space; Creative Team — Haidar Darr, Benedict Blyth, Maria Chanduvi; College — Loughborough University

In light of the impact of the pandemic on live music experiences, a number of entrants looked at how Spotify could remotely recreate the gig and concert experience that so many people have missed out on since 2020. Whether the concepts focused on livestreaming or simply creating communal listening experiences, it was fascinating to see the next generation of creatives thinking about how digital channels could be used to replicate the in-person group experience.

Theme 5: Connecting to Physical Spaces

Credits: D&AD New Blood Spotify Brief Entry — Togetherness Through Music; Creative Team — Khadijah Patel, Naziah Akhtar; Tutor — Alexander Gillott; College — University of Huddersfield

Although the Spotify-listening experience is mediated through digital channels, many of the entrants were keen to connect that experience back to physical locations and spaces. Entrants explored how map-based features could help users discover global music, or keep memories alive by connecting them to both sound and location. It was interesting to note this appetite for bridging digital and physical experiences, and keeping the listening experience rooted in global and local communities.

Theme 6: Bringing Fans Closer to Artists

Credits: D&AD New Blood Spotify Brief Entry — Super-Fan Badges; Creative Team — Pedro Fabra, Bruna Helena Sade; Tutor — Luana Graciano, Jaygo Bloom, Frederico Heer; College — The British School of Creative Arts

For many years, the lofty gap between fans and artists has been closing, in part due to the opportunity that social media offers for artists to ‘speak’ directly to fans. Many of the emerging creatives who responded to the brief thought about ways to connect fans even more closely with the artists they admire. For example, one entry centred around ‘Super-Fan badges’ which users would be granted for being in the top 1% of listeners of an artist; these badges would then unlock exclusive content, further strengthening the relationship between artists and fans.

In closing…

As this cohort of creatives enter our industry, I’m excited to see how these six themes will play out, eventually influencing and shaping the digital products that we use every day. But more than this, I can’t wait to see what the winners of the D&AD Spotify New Blood Awards do next — if their innovative and compelling concepts are anything to go by, their futures are bright! To find out more about the winning entries head over to the D&AD New Blood website.