Major labels control 70% – 87% of tracks on major Spotify playlists

Spotify claims equal access to its playlists, but a new data analyisis by industry consultancy Music Tomorrow shows just how dominate the major labels are of the larger official Spotify playlists.

In its Made to be Found report released earlier this year, Spotify said that in 2020 and 2021 more than 150,000 artists were added to a Spotify offical playlists for the first time.

That’s an impressive amount of supprt for new artists, particularly when you consider that according to Music Tomorrow, there are about 350,000 slots available at any given time on the 5000 officlal frontline playlists where music released in the last 18 months accounts for 75% or more of the tracks.

But when you unpack Spotify’s 150,000 stat remembering that new artist does not mean indie artist and that those 350,000 playlist slots were per month and the 150,000 artsts were over two years, the numbers become less impressive.

Look at the numbers

The uphill battle that indie music faces becomes particularly acute when you look at the most popular Spotify playlists.

New Music Friday

Over the last four years, major labels accounted for nearly 70% of the tracks added to Spotify’s ‘New Music Friday’ playlist -30% for UMG and19% each for Sony Music and WMG.

Rap Caviar and Get Turnt

On Spotify’s top hip-hop playlists ‘Rap Caviar’ and ‘Get Turnt’ major label dominance jumped to 86% and then to 87% on the ‘Today’s Top Hits’ and ‘Pop Rising’ playlists.

Today’s Top Hits and Pop Rising

The study’s conclusion?

“Even though making and releasing music has become easier than ever, the support of a major label — and its marketing powerhouse — is one of the top determinants (if not prerequisites) for getting access to some of the most valuable streaming “real estate”.

Should indie artists stop trying to get their music playlisted?

Every artist should try to be playlisted just like they should try to see if they can gain traction on TikTok, by performing live, submiting tracks for sync oportunites or experimenting with any one of the dozens of other avenues that are available to build an audience.

While an real eye opener, its important to remember that this study was of larger official Spotify playlists and that many official and independent palylists feature far more independent music particualarly in targeted in niche genres.

And as any experienced music marketer will tell you just getting your music on a playlist is not a great marketing plan anyway.

Read the full Music Tomorrow report here.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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1 Comment

  1. Yes, 87% is a very high percentage of controlled tracks by the biggest labels. I think that there should still be fair and equal competition in the provision of access to playlists and I think that this unfair percentage should be reconsidered.

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