For more than half a decade, “trap house jazz” singer/songwriter/producer Masego (a.k.a. Micah Davis) has been trying to plant seeds that could someday gain the attention of Apple, whose track record of breaking songs and artists through its highly visible commercials has been virtually unrivaled for over 20 years.
“I was doing it for years, man, saying ‘I wanna get an Apple commercial’ and just show my love for Apple whenever I could,” says Masego, who even wrote entire verses about his love of iPhones over Androids into his 2016 single “Sego Hotline.”
Cut to 2021, and Masego’s current single “Mystery Lady” is featured as the soundtrack for a new Apple Music campaign showcasing the streaming service’s new spatial audio technology, powered by Dolby Atmos. Not only that, Masego himself has a starring role, multiplying himself throughout the spot to showcase how spatial audio provides a more immersive experience by visualizing his layered vocals and the song’s swirling chorus. The campaign debuted during the NBA Conference semifinals on June 13, and has already led to a 194% surge in Shazams for “Mystery Lady” in its first week of release.
Masego’s collab is perhaps the most coveted type of Apple commercial for musicians, one that features both an active single from an artist’s catalog and showcases their unique skills and personality (the singer even reprises the same pink suit he wears in his “Mystery Lady” single art). “I’m glad that it happened at a point in my life where I kind of know what I’m doing in terms of musically and what I want to say. Even me being a Gemini was cool, showing a billion versions of me as a metaphor,” he says. “It was fun to collaborate on how to visually represent what they were conveying to the world.”
Todd Pendleton, senior VP-chief marketing officer at Dolby, adds of the partnership: “We are seeing both artists’ and fans’ excitement for this new music experience as they are hearing the Dolby Atmos difference. Instruments and vocals that were once hidden in stereo mixes now come to life in a whole new way that unlocks a level of emotionality that didn’t exist before. Songs you love, like Masego’s ‘Mystery Lady,’ you will love even more in Dolby Atmos. Launching [this] experience to the world with our partner Apple Music is a proud moment for me personally as well as the entire Dolby team.”
For Masego, streaming services’ widespread embrace of high-definition audio is a relief for a longterm audio nerd like himself. “I don’t think your average human knows the term ‘FLAC file’ or cares, but I do. As a person that’s spent a lot of money on speakers and tons of gear, I love sound, I love different ways to experience it. I have so many headphones, so many different versions of songs. I built a studio in one of my homes, so my whole house feels like spatial audio. There’s instruments everywhere, hundreds of speakers — I just want to be inside of the sound. It’s pretty much how I act already. There’s a piano within five feet of me right now.”
The Apple campaign is the latest in a series of high-profile looks Masego and his music have received in the past year, including multiple syncs for his Brasstracks collab “Golden Ticket” and a featured performance at last summer’s 2020 BET Awards. And after just a week since the Apple spot debuted, Masego says, “I actually feel it. Usually, it’s hard to feel the effects of digital things. But I will say my phone’s blowing up, my email’s blowing up. There’s a lot of new people discovering me based on that song. The combination of it premiering during the NBA semi-finals was cool as well. A lot of people who usually wouldn’t stumble across me saw it because of sports, so I definitely feel the impact. I feel like you’re constantly a new artist when someone discovers you, and I love to watch that journey with people.”
Songs for Screens is a Variety column sponsored by Anzie Blue, a wellness company and café based in Nashville. It is written by Andrew Hampp, founder of music marketing consultancy 1803 LLC and former correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column highlights noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as film and TV. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @ahampp.
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