Study: Music Streaming Is Global -- But Its Playlists Favor U.S. Music - Rolling Stone
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Study: Music Streaming Is a Global Business — But Its Playlists Still Favor U.S. Music

New report shows that North American artists account for as much as 73 percent of the top editorial playlists on streaming services

Taylor SwiftMTV Video Music Awards, Show, Prudential Center, New Jersey, USA - 26 Aug 2019Taylor SwiftMTV Video Music Awards, Show, Prudential Center, New Jersey, USA - 26 Aug 2019

Taylor Swift MTV Video Music Awards, Show, Prudential Center, New Jersey, USA - 26 Aug 2019

Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

The growth of streaming has paved the way for a more globalized music landscape than ever before. K-pop has been an ever-swelling presence ever since “Gangnam Style” galloped into American pop consciousness in 2012 via YouTube. Latin has taken a bigger piece of the streaming pie, too: In 2018, the U.S. Latin music industry saw its second straight year of double-digit growth, with a nearly 50 percent increase in revenue from services like Apple Music and Spotify.

But it seems that streaming services aren’t yet fully embracing what they helped create. A new report by data analytics company Chartmetric shows that platforms like Spotify and Apple Music are still overwhelmingly choosing artists from North America to feature on their major editorial playlists, sometimes with nearly three-quarters of these artists hailing from the U.S. or Canada.

The report, which studies global music consumption in the first half of 2019, looks at the top 30 playlists on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Deezer to analyze the countries most often represented editorially. (Country here isn’t necessarily where the artist was born, but where the artist “most identifies publicly.”)

Among the four services, Amazon Music most heavily favored artists from North America, with those artists accounting for 73.2 percent of the top playlists. Of those, 67.6 percent of the artists were from the United States. The U.K. follows with 10.3 percent, while artists from South America accounted for just 2.2 percent of the top playlists on the platform.

North American acts also hold the majority on Spotify, accounting for 53 percent, with 48.5 percent coming from the U.S. The U.K. follows with 12.9 percent, followed by South America with 11.7 percent. On Apple Music, the share for North American acts is 49.7 percent, followed by the U.K. with 12.4 percent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the French streaming service Deezer that has what Chartmetric calls “the strongest sense of global equity.” While North American acts have the largest share with 33.8 percent percent, South American acts have a much larger presence here than the other platforms, with 20.5 percent. The U.K. and Western Europe follow with 14.7 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively.

The findings reflect a suggests that streaming playlists tend to be behind in reflecting the trends of the modern music landscape. Similarly, despite the fact that urban terrestrial radio has been giving more and more airplay to female rappers, playlists like Spotify’s RapCaviar and Apple Music’s The A-List: Hip Hop have remained overwhelmingly male.


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