HITS Daily Double
How Zedd’s Grammy-Night Event Hit the Target

The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey (Interscope) first saw the light of day as a song-length Target spot on the Grammys; it was one of the night’s few true needle-movers.

The song has gone on to big streams, sales and spins and is charging toward the Top 10 at Pop radio. With 630k+ in stateside consumption, it’s Zedd’s best-performing track in the U.S. ever, and it’s no slouch globally, having racked up 1.2m worldwide with 158m streams (it’s Top 10 on Spotify’s Global Top 50).

“We had a great opportunity, spearheaded by [EVP/Chief Revenue Officer] Gary Kelly, to have the song and visual piece light up the Grammys,” says Vice Chairman Steve Berman. “To have it actually turn into a Target campaign was a great launching pad in the U.S. The song has connected around the world.”

Zedd notes that the track came together “over a very long time,” and that he and producer duo Grey worked extensively on it before beginning “the search for the perfect vocalist. About 15 or so vocalists later, we found Maren, and she was the perfect vocal we were looking for.” He adds that he hadn’t heard the Nashville breakout until his manager, Dave Rene, suggested her.

“Having Maren on this record has propelled it even further,” says Rene, a former Interscope A&R exec. “We always say that over time, Zedd will transcend any genre and/or box he gets put in. We’re reaching new audiences and new demographics who had previously thought Zedd was not accessible for them.”

The song, Kelly points out, wasn’t created for Target, but perfectly fit the bill—the retail giant was, he says, looking for a piece of music to create an inclusive environment—a positive counterpoint to the divisive political tone of the moment. The creative came together in the weeks preceding the Grammys. The material, he adds, “was so strong that Target ended up re-doing its spring campaign” to accommodate it, and the clip that aired on Music’s Biggest Night later became the official video (now at 12m or so views).

“It’s the perfect combo of art and brand,” Kelly asserts.

“The Middle” became the fourth Grammy-night event produced by the Interscope-Target partnership since 2015, following Imagine Dragons’ full-song performance of “Shots”; Gwen Stefani’s live video for “Make Me Like You”; and “It Takes Two,” a Carly Rae Jepsen-Mike WiLL Made-It collaboration featuring Lil Yachty.

“I loved the pitch and creative freedom that was given to me from the start,” Zedd recalls. “It was the perfect cannon to shoot this song out of.”

Although no Zedd full-length is yet on the schedule, Rene notes, “We have a wide dynamic range of records set to come out this year. Many more musical sides of Zedd will be revealed.”

Says Kelly, “You wish every campaign would go this well, in terms of the music, the creative and 
the reaction.”