Spotify’s new music Friday playlist favors independent artists and women

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Photo credit: Karthikeya GS

New study suggests that the Spotify New Music Friday playlist favors music from independent labels and women.

The study was published in the International Journal of Industrial Organization and was conducted by the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He found that the Spotify New Music Friday playlist – which is curated by the publishers of Spotify – promotes music from independent labels and female artists.

Co-authors Luis Aguiar, Joel Waldfogel and Sarah Waldfogel say they analyzed more than 5,700 songs from the playlist throughout 2017. The researchers hoped to determine whether Spotify showed a bias towards a certain genre, artist or label. They did this by comparing each song’s ranking on the NMF playlist to its overall streaming performance.

The researchers found that music from independent labels ranked higher than their streaming numbers predicted, resulting in an average increase of two places on the playlist. Female artists also benefited from playlist placement, at around 1.4 ranks from final streaming numbers.

“Despite the challenges that artists and women from independent labels face in the music industry,” Spofity’s New Music curation seems to favor them, “concludes Joel Waldfogel. “After factoring in curatorial playlists rankings, songs by independent label artists are being broadcast less, indicating a bias against big label music. “

It is important to note that this search only applies to the Spotify New Music Friday playlist.

“For example, music streams by women represent about a quarter of total streams, a small share compared to the number of women who listen, among musicians and in the population as a whole,” the researchers said. to say. “Instead, the bottom line is that New Music Friday does not compound the challenges these groups face in the music industry.”

A key footnote in the report is that Spotify’s top playlists tend to promote established artists. A 2018 USC study found that just 16% of the top artists in the last six years were women. And the ratio of women behind the scenes is even worse – male producers outnumber female producers 49 times. Where are the women in the music industry?

Ethiopia Habtemariam, president of Motown Records, says they usually work behind the scenes. “I think there are quite a few women in the music industry in marketing and advertising roles. I think what I noticed on the way up is that we miss a lot of women in creative roles like A&R, ”she adds.

“When I first entered the game I remember there were women of color running the A&R departments, but it has diminished. And that’s a problem, because those roles have a real influence on who gets signed, from artists to songwriters to producers.


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