Despite all the talk of equality for women in music, the top 5 most streamed most artists of 2018 on Spotify are all men. Spotify's 5 Most Streamed Tracks were also all male. The streamer registered the same all male top artist inequality in 2015 and 2016.
Spotify's Top 5 2018 artists are Drake, Post Malone, XXXTentacion, J Balvin, and Ed Sheeran. and its top songs are Drake’s “God’s Plan,” XXXTentacion’s “SAD!,” Post Malone’s “Rockstar,” Post Malone’s “Psycho,” and Drake’s “In My Feelings.”
Spotify Playlist Kabbal
At least some of the streaming success of this all male club appears to be perpetuated by their outsized placements on Spotify's own wildly popular official playlists.
An analysis of top Spotify playlists earlier this year by Liz Pelly of The Baffler included Today’s Top Hits, New Music Friday, Rock This, Rap Caviar, Hot Country, ¡Viva Latino! and more. The results of her experiment:
"I found Spotify’s most popular and visible playlists to be staggeringly male-dominated. Not only this, I approached the project by listening from a brand new account in order to confirm that gender bias would be reproduced by way of algorithmic recommendations - that when a user listens to mostly male-dominated playlists, what is produced are yet more male-dominated playlists. Indeed, the sexist music industry status quo is upheld widely by Spotify, even as the platform exploits the woke optics of playlists like Feminist Friday and advertising schemes like the Smirnoff Equalizer to further benefit its brand recognition and bottom line."
Helping to guarantee that the all male kabbal will continue, Spotify's algorithmically driven playlist designed to promote new releases, New Music Friday, is dominated by men.
"Over four weeks, I looked closely at the 301 songs that were included. There were sixty-one tracks by women artists, comprising 20.3 percent of the total playlist. Two-hundred and eleven of the 301 songs were by male artists, comprising 70.3 percent of the playlist. Twenty-seven tracks were collaborations between men and women, making up 9 percent. There were also two tracks by “mysterious viral artists” whose gender I was unable to identify. When all features were included, I found that 248 of the 301 songs (82.4 percent) included men, while 112 (37.2 percent) of the songs included women—the number of men doubled the number of women."
"This polarization looks like more than garden-variety cultural sexism," writes Kaitlyn Tiffany of Vox. "It looks like something new that our algorithm-based platforms have wrought. The biggest question facing Spotify in the coming year should be whether it can do something about it."