The Power of Streaming Audio for Storytelling: 3 Takeaways From Lydia Polgreen’s Chat With Brandy and Danyel Smith at Cannes Lions

Streaming across both music and podcasts has opened up new pathways for creators and listeners to connect. At this year’s virtual Cannes Lions Live, an annual event for the creative communications industry, Spotify hosted “The Sound of Culture: Music and Podcast for the Streaming Generation” to dive deeper into the power of streaming. 

The conversation brought together three women  who have experienced—and influenced—the audio revolution first-hand: Gimlet Managing Director Lydia Polgreen, music industry multihyphenate Brandy, and journalist and host of the Spotify Original Music+Talk show Black Girl Songbook Danyel Smith. Lydia introduced the chat from a studio in New York City while Brandy and Danyel joined in from a set in Los Angeles—but “green screen magic” made them all appear to be together.


Despite the women’s varying career paths, all attested to the impact and opportunity streaming has presented to creators of all kinds, giving them the platform to connect with fans and listeners in a new type of two-way conversation.

Read on to hear some of the insights from Lydia, Brandy, and Danyel’s conversation.

The intimacy of podcasting is unmatched

Lydia: “When people put their headphones in, when you’re literally inside their brain, what they’re looking for is that kind of connection. It’s emotional, it’s personal, you’re often talking about things that touch people in very emotional ways, and to me those are the most powerful podcasts.” 

Danyel: “Being a writer for so long … even though you feel like you’re communicating with an audience, it doesn’t sometimes feel intimate. I think there’s something about being inside somebody’s headphones, being in their earbuds, where you’re actually talking to the person.” 

Streaming gives artists greater levels of exposure and listeners more choice

Brandy: “I love being able to connect directly [with my fans]. With Spotify, to be able to go through such an amazing platform to reach millions of people all around the world, you get a chance to have your existing fans introduced to new music, and existing fans introduced to your catalogue that they were probably not privy to.” 

Danyel: “I was one of those [people who] used to look at streaming so cross-eyed like, ‘I have my CDs, I’m good.’ But the thing about streaming to me is, we pick, we decide … and I think that streaming really has this ability to give you such a deeper connection to music. It lets you make your own playlist, it lets you go to your favorites, in the exact moment that you want to hear your favorite.” 

We’re still in the early stages of the audio revolution 

Lydia: “I would like to remind people that we are just at the beginning. People don’t realize this, but 2020 was the year where we went from more than half of the cars on the road having either an auxiliary jack or a Bluetooth connection, meaning that people were no longer using CDs. I think what that tells me is that we are in the early days of the streaming revolution.” 

Ready for more? Badge holders can check out the full conversation on demand on the official Cannes Lions Live hub.