In 1979 then-President Carter initiated what was called Black Music Month. Distinct from the celebration of Black History Month in February, the motivation was to focus attention on the singular achievement of Black artists and the Black music tradition. In 2009 President Obama reinforced the cultural significance of the celebration, stating: "We honor the artists who, through this music, bring us together, show us a true reflection of ourselves, and inspire us to reach for the harmony that lies beyond our toughest struggles." That fitting proclamation not only enshrined the month but connected the Black American musical tradition to our nation's cultural zeitgeist. There couldn't be a better time for Vevo to introduce its Afro Pulse platform, a spotlight on the richness of Black music.
Afro Pulse is a premium extension to advertisers that gives them a much sought-after entry point to a deep interaction with Black voices. Afro Pulse leads with its curation and knowledge of both the legacy and future of Black music. Recognizing the need for a product like this in a crowded music landscape was the first step on the road to product ideation and now launch. Andrea Zapata, Vice President West Coast Sales, shares more of the Afro Pulse origin story, saying, "I would be remiss if I didn't credit Arthur Dansby, who is a part of our ad operations team. He was looking for a way to emphasize the commitment that viewers have to fostering growth and discovery while also supporting Black artists. Afro Pulse was born out of the desire to satisfy both of those urges."
This prescient observation of Vevo's capabilities and current product mix builds on leveraging the demand to center Black voices. Many advertisers look to Vevo to align with a specific artist or genre, which has its advantages. However, with a solid cultural understanding that Black music does not sit comfortably with any one artist or within any genre, but instead cross-pollinates across several music styles, Afro Pulse allows advertisers to discover and support Black music outside of traditional artist and genre boundaries. This might seem obvious to those who effortlessly engage with the culture but might be less evident to advertisers.
"Partners and advertisers will come to Vevo and explain they want to reach Black Americans and their instinct is to check a box called hip-hop or R&B," Zapata explains. "Afro Pulse allows us to explain that the Black music tradition is more nuanced and there is more to access than checking a box."
"Our Vevo editorial team is using their expertise to determine the best content, but we also have metadata that allows us to make sure that we are tapping into a breadth of Black artists, from household names to emerging artists," Zapata says. "This can't be understated, because we are giving tangible support to new artists and using our data to predict who could be next. That is incredibly valuable to our advertisers who are always forward-facing, and we can help them get there."
With Afro Pulse, Vevo is dedicated to elevating and supporting the voices of Black creators at all stages of their careers, while stretching existing perceptions of Black music. As the gatekeepers of music videos and with editorial teams on the pulse of culture, Vevo has opened a meaningful way for advertisers to connect with Black artist voices beyond just this month.
"At Vevo, we believe that music videos are a cultural unifier," Zapata concludes. "We believe videos have cross-generational appeal, transcend geographic borders and are significant indicators on the velocity of music taste and trends. In short, they signal what is popular before it is mainstream." Afro Pulse's arrival lets brands and advertisers know that understanding the Black music legacy and its future requires a full-time, year-round focus. Vevo's commitment and curatorial prowess make that access more possible than ever.
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