Pairing digital creation with human connection.

College students represent Spotify’s largest, most loyal, and active audience on the platform. The brand saw a need to deepen their relationships with this valuable audience but realized that when you’re a faceless tech brand, building human connection is a challenge.

Spotify tasked Neato with creating an experience that would help them cultivate real connection with students and give them a vehicle to demonstrate the capabilities and breadth of Spotify in an authentic way. 

Young people have a desire to find new music. Modern technology gives them access to an endless library of artists but algorithms and banner ads don’t inspire humans, people do. We knew that Spotify could enable music discovery so long as students understood how to leverage the tech. The student experience is rich with moments that can be made better with great music. 

This inspired the Spotify Music Lab – a popup experience where music experts help students use Spotify to discover new music and build playlists that will elevate their everyday lives.


Spotify, like many tech brands, found themselves caught in the same cycle – distribute ads, track what people click on, tweak the content to get more clicks. Rinse and repeat. It works for a while until it doesn’t. 

A faceless tech brand can’t build meaningful relationships with young people unless they spend time with them and act with humanity. Spotify had to show that they understood student needs and was invested in meeting them. 

Spotify wanted the experience to show students that their platform was a vehicle for music discovery and building playlists for any occasion. 

Before tech came along, humans looked to other humans to fuel the discovery of new music. Young people looked to credible peers to help them discover music.  It could be a music-obsessed friend, a local DJ, or an employee at a local record store clerk. With the emergence of tech, algorithms often replaced this art, and the process lost its luster.  

Spotify offered students access to an endless trove of music. The depth of Spotify’s catalog is one of its differentiators but it was also a barrier. Using the product for the first time could be intimidating. The endless possibilities created decision fatigue and paralysis. Spotify gave students an opportunity to digitally connect with other humans but these were advanced features that were difficult to grasp for the average user.


We designed the Soundtrack Lab experience so that students could interact with Spotify in an up-close and personal way. The Soundtrack Lab is a ‘genius bar’ type experience where music experts helped students discover new music and build playlists for any occasion, while learning more about the Spotify platform in an authentic way.

The music experts were a dynamic group of young, relatable, and credible music authorities. Our experts included an in-house Spotify music curator, DJ Mel, notoriously recognized as ‘Obama’s DJ’ and one of Texas’ most well-rounded and high-profile DJs.

Our greeters guided students to crates containing mock vinyl records that paid homage to an old record store. Students had to select a ‘vinyl’ that would help inform their journey of music discovery.

Students were then prompted to fill out a simple mad lib that helped the experts get a better understanding of the student’s music tastes.

The experts used the prompts to help students build a playlist. Through the process, experts would share some of their favorite artists with students and show them how they used Spotify to find new music. 

  • Spotify

We realized that not all students would have time for a 1:1 discussion with our experts. Passerbys were invited to contribute one song to a campus-wide playlist, which was published and promoted to students on and around campus.

We hired a group of well-connect student Ambassadors who helped us personalize the experience to each campus, identify local experts, and promote the experience in each market.

  • “Being able to connect with Individuals thru music & with Spotify as an additional user-friendly platform made it feel like it was just hanging with friends talking about our favorite music versus working.”

    DJ Internet Famous, Texas A&M Music Expert


  • 9

    Music Experts

  • 352

    Spotify Premium Members in Attendance

  • 151

    Social Media Posts

  • 865

    Flyers Distributed

  • 1,634

    Songs Added to Shared University Playlists

  • 707

    Playlist Followers