For the longest time, “playlists” were the mantra of every artist who hoped to break out on Spotify. If only you could get on a major playlist, then your career would finally get some traction. That looks less and less likely these days as a new study has found that the major labels control anywhere between 70 and 87% of all major Spotify playlists.
Big Numbers Don’t Tell The Complete Story
Among some of the the data that Music Tomorrow’s “Made To Be Found” report discovered is that some of the numbers that Spotify has been releasing regarding support for indie artists isn’t how it seems.
For instance, the company stated that between 2020 and 2021 there were more than 150,000 artists added to various playlists. The problem is that every month there are about 350,000 slots available across the service’s 5,000 lists. The 150,000 number was across two years of openings, so when you really break it down, the figure doesn’t sound that impressive, does it?
The Majors Dominate
The study also found that when you look at the popular New Music Friday playlist, UMG artists own about 30% of the list, while Sony and WMG take up 19% each. That’s almost 70% taken up by the Big 3.
It’s even worse when you look at the Rap Caviar and Get Turnt playlists. There, UMG artists had almost 42% of the list, UMG almost 25% and Sony around 21%. That’s 88% of the total spots on the lists!
The major labels have always denied buying space on these major playlists, and while there’s no direct proof that happens directly (except for the marketing support they show Spotify, which is a round about way of paying to be on the list), they sure do own them.
While the common conception of the indie artist is that it’s now possible to do everything DIY, this study just goes to show that you can’t beat major label support. That was always the case in the past, and it’s no less so today, it turns out.