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How Do Algorithmic Playlists Impact Artists & Musical Tastes?

what role does algorithmic playlists play in music tastes and artist development? A&R

Photo Credit: Your Music Marketing

What is the impact of algorithmic playlists on music tastes over time, and which artists benefit most from them? A new study offers some interesting insights into the world of algorithmic playlists on Spotify.

A recent Goldman Sachs forecast suggests the global recorded music market could reach $50.1 billion in revenues by 2030. But what does the industry look like on the road to that stat? Streaming is the primary driver behind the explosion in music revenues, accounting for just 19.8% in 2015 but now reaches 67% in 2022.

growth of music revenues

With the huge explosion in music revenues driven by streaming, one platform dominates the rest. Spotify holds 31% share of the global music streaming market—making it the biggest driver in streaming music trends that cater to its 500 million users. Apple Music trails behind with just 15%, followed by Amazon Music (13%), Tencent Music (13%) and YouTube Music (8%).

distribution of global music services chart 2024

For its analysis on algorithmic playlists, Your Music Marketing examined over 25.3 billion Spotify streams from 317 artists. YMM divided these artists into four groups including emerging artists, artists in development, established artists, and stars.

  • Emerging Artists | These artists have fewer than 1,000 followers on Spotify.
  • Artists In Development | These artists have at least 1,000 Spotify followers and several 10K+ unique listeners—often due to one popular track.
  • Established Artists | Artists have more than 10,000 Spotify followers and over 100,000 unique listeners. They have multiple singles that have performed well.
  • Stars | This category includes the top artists in their musical genre with several hundred thousand followers and over one million unique listeners.

YMM’s data found that Artists in Development represented 56.5% of artists on playlists, Established Artists were represented in 26.1% of the sample, while Emerging Artists and Stars both shared 8.7% of the sample size. The sample size also includes 10 music sub-genres, which were grouped into four main genres—Afropop, Electronic, Pop, and Rap.

What is the Impact of Algorithmic Playlists on Listening Habits?

Programmed listening accounts for 34.3% of the total streams analyzed in this report. That includes editorial and algorithmic playlists, where listeners are open to music discovery and may become an active listener.

Active listening accounts for 60.7% of total streams analyzed, with a 5% buffer of ‘Other’ that could not be identified. Further breaking down the programmed listening stat reveals that algorithmic playlist influence accounted for about 18.7% of programmed listening in 2015—or about one stream out of five.

Algorithmic playlists account for 61% of programmed listening—meaning more than half of streams generated from playlists come from algorithmic playlists on Spotify. A quick breakdown of the distribution shows that Radios represent 36% of programmed listening.

The rest of the algorithmic playlists account for 25% of programmed listening—or about one in every four streams. Meanwhile, editorial playlists only account for 11% of programmed listening.

Among the streams analyzed, Radios and Daily Mix were the most listened to sources, generating 86% of the total streams from algorithmic playlists. They are followed by Release Radar, Discover Weekly, and the On Repeat playlist.

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