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Special Project

Special Project

Helping Students Achieve a "Sound Mind" Through Lo-Fi Beats

Entered in Sound & Music


As part of Sallie Mae’s mission to behave as a “student support system” – and not just a loan company – they want to show up for students in meaningful ways throughout their educational journey. Not just at the end when it comes time to pay for loans.

And sometimes, this means creating tools or resources that have absolutely nothing to do with finances or loans.

Reported to be the most stressed-out generation, Gen Z has already lived through two recessions and a global pandemic before they finished puberty. Yet they’re still expected to show up to Psych 101 and make the Dean’s List.

Sallie Mae wanted to find a way to help this audience take a breath, relax, tune out distractions and study, so they could reach their educational goals … and achieve a sound mind.

Our key parameters?


So, just ahead of the infamously stressful final exam season, Sallie Mae dropped a brand-new Lo-Fi music album: “Sound Mind."

They selected the Lo-Fi (low fidelity) genre based on its proven ability to help listeners boost their mood, increase concentration, and stimulate learning, and how wildly popular it is among students, with 73.4% of low fidelity listeners falling between the ages of 18-34.

Grounded in science and structured using the Pomodoro Technique, “Sound Mind” features 17 original tracks produced by several popular Gen Z artist partners, hand-picked by the team. Each track contains music that falls within a range of 50 to 80 beats per minute, with natural sounds and soft, ambient instrumentals woven throughout, and then the album itself is structured in 25-minute focus and 5-minute break intervals.

Mix those components together, give them a shake, and you’ve got one seriously supercharged brainpower-boosting, stress-slaying, productivity-pumping, vibe-enhancing cocktail.

Knowing students have different studying styles and platform preferences, Sallie Mae made Sound Mind available to stream on Spotify and created custom content for YouTube. A 55-minute long “album visualizer” video on YouTube features all tracks set to a looping sequence of artwork that transports viewers into a Zen world with a floating brain, a sleeping cat, and of course … space whales. Paying tribute to the aesthetic already established within the Lo-Fi genre, the art direction for the album visualizer encompasses three visual worlds that embody how the album makes you feel.

As the Spotify algorithm took hold, Sound Mind tracks were organically pushed out to the combined 2+ million monthly listeners of artist partners like Melina Mae Cortez Duterte (Jay Som)Issac DunbarTOLEDOJuan Ariza (musicariza) and Chris Plante (modslee), with the album appearing on discoverable playlists. The musicians also helped increase exposure to Sound Mind by sharing it with their networks.


Costing only $.06 per minute of listening based on media spend, Sound Mind has successfully captured 25,000 hours – or 1.5 million minutes – of students’ attention across Spotify and YouTube. And 1.5 million minutes of our stressed-out students vibing out to Lo-Fi beats and space whales sure feels like a win.

The YouTube album visualizer received 400K views through the end of 2023 and a completion rate of almost 80%, blowing away YouTube benchmarks by 77%. And even though it was almost an hour long, nearly 10% of all YouTube viewers watched the whole album.

What’s more, 50% of people who watched the video fell between the ages of 18-24, proving you can capture and hold this notoriously fickle audience’s attention when you create something worthy of their time. Even if it’s coming from a bank!

In a major departure for the financial services category, the Sound Mind initiative demonstrates how Sallie Mae is showing up for the students they serve, where they’re already plugged in, with free resources and tools that provide support and help manage stress along their educational journey. So that ultimately, these students can crush their goals.


Video for Helping Students Achieve a "Sound Mind" Through Lo-Fi Beats

Entrant Company / Organization Name

GYK Antler, Sallie Mae


Entry Credits