Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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Is Streaming Curation Helping Artists’ Development?

In the digital music streaming world, thousands of tracks bombard platforms and compete to find their way to the listeners, who will eventually take a liking and continue to loop these tracks actively. 

Playlist curations by these digital streaming services have become highly sought after for their massive followings and influence that they reach. With flagship Spotify editorials like “RapCaviar”, “Viva Latino”, “K-Pop ON!”, “DanceXL” and more making their mark as the giants that rack up streams for talent, an increasing number of artists and their teams are constantly battling to have their releases make these placements. Undeniably, these editorials are a sure way to expose music to new listeners due to its abundance in reach. However, the vicious cycle continues to perpetuate where these playlists are handled by human curators served by editors sitting at the backend of Spotify. While they are constantly driven by the mission of “serving the listeners” and giving them more of what they want to listen to, how would a listener discover new artists if they had not heard of their tracks before? 

Increasingly, we see a chicken and egg issue here. More often than not, subscribers of a music streaming service listen to playlists curated by the editors or algorithms rather than actively picking out their selections. Spotify has most recently introduced the term “algotorial”, which essentially means a combination of “algorithm” and “human editorial” to improve the listener’s experience. However, the trend continues to perpetuate where the top per cent of streams continues to be dominated by prominent artists while emerging musicians are left to find their way out to build their listener base externally.  

As it seems, there continues to be a disparity between how Spotify encourages listeners to consume a specific “type” of music and what the listeners would prefer. Streaming digital music functions almost like a frequency radio, where the playlists kick off the Top 40 biggest tracks on the charts, which continues to be programmed by the giant player within the industry. 

While music playlist curations continue to favour prominent artists, credit must be given when it is due. Spotify’s Fresh Find and Discover Weekly have given emerging artists more opportunities to extend their outreach and get a following on the platform. By continuously encouraging more meaningful fan outreach across various social media platforms, new artists can more confidently strengthen their musical careers by capturing the listeners’ attention. 

Words by Sheila Lim

Posted On 9 November, 2022