Ah, the NOW! series. Those psychedelic, neon-hued albums whose commercials used to dominate the commercial spaces on MTV, Nickolodeon, VH1 and countless other networks. They were quintessential Y2k culture, with catchy music video clips of Britney Spears, SmashMouth and Jay-Z all crammed into one 60-second spot. But as iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify crowded the music space, there was less room for what’d quickly become a new-millennium classic.
At nearly 4 compilations released per year, there was a time NOW! albums were in high-demand. With the advent of iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and other streaming services, there was less need to purchase a pop compilation when users could cherrypick the music they wanted. Those flashy commercials became rarer occurrences until one day there were no more 15-second snippets of “Toxic” on TV.
But they could only be kept down so long. Yesterday, Universal Music Entertainment (UMe) announced its newest compilation, NOW That’s What I Call Music! 64. A quick search turned up something surprising—not only did UMe’s NOW! still exist, but by the looks of their Instagram, Twitter and Billboard ratings, it was thriving. NOW! has since moved on from its plastic seashell roots, boasting an app for streaming album hits on the go.
Still, they haven’t strayed too far from their bright commercials or music video clips stacked back-to-back. Don’t believe us? See the video below.
There’s something to be said for NOW!’s shift traditional to digital. While they’re not poised to become the next Spotify—how many times can you listen to SmashMouth’s “All Star,” Third Eye Blind’s “Never Let You Go,” and Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger” in one hour?—there’s something to be said for the preservation of brand recognition after 20 years of albums. Translating the concept of mixtapes into catchy commercials, branded CD cases and a sleek app isn’t easy.
The NOW! series could’ve refused to adapt like so many other Y2k brands (looking at you, Blockbuster). They could’ve stuck to hard-copy only, kept their ad strategy strictly broadcast. But their willingness to change has kept them top-of-mind…and top-of-chart.