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Spotify featured playlists use far more male artists than female, new data shows

The result comes from one writer's 'listening experiment' to assess gender bias

Ilana Kaplan
Wednesday 06 June 2018 19:28 BST
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A new study reports that Spotify's featured playlists skew male.
A new study reports that Spotify's featured playlists skew male.

A new study reveals that Spotify's featured playlists are gender-imbalanced with "staggeringly" more male artists featured than female ones.

According to a report from The Baffler by Liz Pelly, the streaming service curates these main playlists using more male artists than female artists.

This means that when users visit the Browse tab and look at the most visible playlists like Today's Top Hits, Rap Caviar or Hot Country, they'll observe gender inequity.

Artists featured on these main Spotify playlists gain more exposure, drive more listeners to the Spotify platform and help them rise up the Billboard charts.

Pelly conducted a month-long study to see if there was gender bias within Spotify's platform, despite "woke optics" like the Smirnoff Equalizer and their Feminist Friday playlists.

She listened "almost exclusively" to the most popular playlists including Today’s Top Hits, New Music Friday, Rock This, Rap Caviar, Hot Country and ¡Viva Latino!, keeping a close eye on how artists self-identified when it came to their gender.

Pelly's study uncovered the following:

Today’s Top Hits, with 19 million followers

64.5 percent of the tracks were by men as the lead artist, 20 percent were by women, and 15.5 percent were collaborations between men and women artists.

New Music Friday, with 2 million followers

70.3 percent of the tracks were by male artists, 20.3 percent were by women, 9 percent were collaborations between men and women.

Rock This, with over 4 million followers

86 percent of the tracks were by all-male bands, 9 percent were by women-led projects, and 5 percent were groups with women involvement.

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Rap Caviar, with over 9.6 million followers

Only one track led by a woman was featured in the playlist for a full month: Cardi B’s “Bartier Cardi (feat. 21 Savage).”

Hot Country, with over 4.7 million followers

92.2 percent of the tracks were exclusively by men, 7.8 percent were led by women or featured a woman.

¡Viva Latino!, with over 8 million followers

73 percent of the tracks were men-led, 24 percent of the tracks were women-led, and collaborations were 3 percent of the tracks.

Pelly also notes that Billboard said that 2017 was the first time since 1984 that the top ten of its year-end top-artist lists were filled with only men.

They added: "In 2017, the top of the Billboard charts were flush with hip-hop acts (generally a male dominated genre), thanks in part to the continued rise of rap on streaming services."

The Independent has contacted Spotify for a comment.

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