Songs For Screens: Anna of the North Talks Netflix, ‘Dream Girl’ Apple Spot

Andrew Hampp

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Even in a pandemic, the impact of an Apple commercial in boosting a song’s streams and overall good fortune remains virtually unrivaled.

The latest benefactor? Norwegian pop singer-songwriter Anna Lotterud, a.k.a. Anna of the North, whose 2019 single “Dream Girl” has seen a surge in streaming activity since it began appearing as the score for Apple’s iPad Pro campaign, “Float.” The commercial has aired frequently on national prime-time and cable TV, totaling over $10.9 million in estimated media spend and over 336 million TV impressions through May 13, according to iSpot.TV.

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In the first two weeks since the campaign’s premiere on April 18, streams for “Dream Girl” leapt 202% on Apple Music and doubled on Spotify, while Shazam activity increased by 1,000% and single-week sales surged 999% in the U.S. alone. That growth has continued in the past week, with total consumption for the track up 12% from May 8 to May 11, according to Nielsen Music.

Such a ripple effect is familiar territory for Lotterud, who helped write the playbook for Netflix sync success when her song “Lovers” was featured during a pivotal scene in the streaming service’s wildly popular “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” rom-com in 2018. Though Lotterud had developed a cult Stateside following for her collaborations with artists like Tyler, the Creator, the exposure from the Netflix sync helped her secure her first-ever U.S. tour and paved the way for subsequent treks with LANY and a headline run that just wrapped prior to the global quarantine.

Still, the Oslo-based Lotterud was blissfully unaware that the Apple campaign even existed until her fans began alerting her to it. “I’m in Norway with no television and not the same programs as the U.S., so I wouldn’t have seen it,” Lotterud says. “Suddenly people started tweeting about how I was in this Apple ad, and then I had to figure out if it was true or not. It’s so hard to be a musician these days, and there’s so many talented people out there, so a spotlight like that is culturally important. It’s really exciting.”

Songs for Screens caught up with Lotterud to learn more about the early impact she’s seen from the Apple campaign while quarantining at home, as well as another surprise sync for Anna Of The North’s “Playing Games” during the premiere of Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever.” The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Songs For Screens: You said you didn’t know the Apple campaign was in the works, did you know about Netflix’s use of “Playing Games” prior to its debut?
I had no idea — the Internet, the fans let me know. Suddenly someone posted to me, “Oh your music is on this new Netflix series.”

 

Given how coveted these types of opportunities are by artists, would you like to have been prepared?
As I think about it, I’d probably want to be surprised [rather than waiting to find out if hers was chosen from a long list of songs by other artists]. I don’t know if I could deal with, “Oh, are you gonna get the spot or not?” instead of just knowing when it happens. Maybe it’s better to just be surprised.

How do you measure the impact of such a big moment like an Apple campaign when you can’t go out in the real world or tour right now?
Well with “To All the Boys I Loved Before,” I had reached a whole new fanbase already, a whole new group of people that I would have never reached on my own. There’s just so much good music out there, but if people don’t hear it, then how are they gonna know it exists? That’s the really cool thing about it, is reaching people that would be so hard to reach on your own.

How has your productivity been during quarantine? Are you writing new music?
I’ve been writing a lot of music, or trying to. I haven’t been that much outside my house, to be honest. I’ve been working out and I haven’t been drinking, so I feel quite healthy. I think coronavirus is awful, and I know it sounds weird, but I think it’s been really good for me to be at home and take things slowly and not feel bad about it. I feel like I am personally in a way better place now than I was after my tour. When the tour ended, I was exhausted and if corona didn’t happen I would keep going and doing stuff.

What initially inspired “Dream Girl,” and does the context fit within the Apple ad?
That song was written at a time in my life where I had had this relationship, and we were on and off and back and forth. I never got the approval from him that I needed or that you would get from a healthy relationship. So, I think the entire “Dream Girl” album was kind of inspired by how that relationship was really important for me. I needed to understand how to rely on myself and be more self-confident. I had to find that strength in myself and that’s what “Dream Girl” meant to me. It’s also ironic in a way, in that it’s fun and all the mixed feelings I felt, being sad and miserable. Maybe it’s good to feel like this because sometimes when you experience stuff like this you go into survival mode. You use or find corners yourself that you’ve never seen before.

 

So that’s what “Dream Girl” is. A dream girl doesn’t exist, but the point is to be your own dream girl, or to be one for someone. Because nothing is perfect and you will never be perfect, but you can be perfect for yourself in a way. So I wrote a lot of music about that, and the whole “Dream Girl” girl album is about trying to find that happiness in yourself.

I don’t know how that connects with the Apple spot in a way, but the iPad is a tool to be creative, it’s a dream tool. “Dream Girl” is fun, but it’s also melancholy and it’s sad. It’s all the feelings.

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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