Spotify has shared new listener stats that show both increased per user listening hours and growth in the number of artists users listens to weekly. Driving the artist diversity, according the the stats provided by the music streamer, are official playlists created both by curators (Rap Caviar) and by algorithms (Release Radar).
Spotify is seeing strong growth in listening diversity - the number of artists each listener streams per week. "More artists per week = more listening diversity," says the music streamer, who adds that more artist diversity also means more new music discovery.
The average number of artists each listener streams per week on Spotify increased 37% from just under 30 artists per week in 2014 to 41 artists so far in 2017. And the biggest increase happened in the past year:
Average weekly Spotify listening hours per user also grew by 25% during the same period.
"Considering these graphs, plus the fact that we added 20 million subscribers in the past year, it’s clear more listeners are hearing more music on Spotify, and they’re streaming a wider variety of music, " write Spotify's David Erlandsson and Jomar Perez. "In other words, the pie is getting bigger and there are more slices going around."
Spotify programmed (editorial and algorithmic) playlists and radio-like stations are driving the growth in artist diversity, according to the streamer, as shown by the below graph. Computer driven playlists like Discover Weekly, Daily Mix, Release Radar and Time Capsule alongside hand curated playlists like RapCaviar, Today’s Top Hits and Baila Reggaeton consistently expose Spotify users to new artists and tracks.
Analysis: Top 40 Radio All Over Again?
This increase in the number of artists each user is exposed to weekly comes at a time when the way that music is consumed on Spotify has shifted from "listening to what I want, when I want" to "listening to my favorite playlists." That shift was predictable as the novelty of having a 40 million track music collection wore off. But the shift is also driven by how prominently Spotify features their own playlists - often at the expense of independent curators.
And while Spotify says that listening hours are up 25%, they are not sharing just how many average minutes or hours per user that represents. So, while artist listening diversity is up 37%, is 40 total artists per week really an impressive stat? While the music is customized to fit each user's taste, isn't 40 artists all that we heard when we were stuck listening to Top 40 broadcast radio?
So while 41 artists in 2017 is better than 30 in 2014, you'd need a deeper dive into Spotify's stats before being convinced that the music streamer has achieved the kind of real artist diversity that leads to new music discovery for more than a handful of label connected artists.
What are average per user listening hours, for example? And how many people actually listen to a substantial portion of their Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists?
Not to pick on Spotify, it would also be useful to see similar stats from Pandora's Genome and other music streamers.
Streaming enables music discovery, but I'm not yet convinced that it effectively encourages it.