When Spotify launched in MENA two years ago, it wanted to create opportunities for as many Arab artists as possible, in line with its global mission to give a million creative artists the chance to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to appreciate and be inspired by these creators.
As a true partner to artists, celebrating their music and culture and supporting them to succeed, Spotify wants all Arab music creators, regardless of gender, to enjoy equal conditions in which they can thrive.
There is so much great female talent in this region and high demand for their music, yet they’re hugely underrepresented. Female artists made up less than 13 per cent of Arab artists signed by MENA-based labels in the past five years. The research Spotify conducted revealed it came down to socio-cultural challenges and barriers to access the music industry.
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So Spotify designed SAWTIK to amplify the voices of the region’s emerging female artists and provide them with the access and the visibility they need to kick-start their careers. Spotify wants this process to be inclusive; so Spotify is welcoming a wide range of female music creators from across the Middle East and North Africa. And Spotify invites all players in the music industry to join and take part in shaping a future music industry, where more women can reach their full potential and feel proud to call themselves artists.
Based on the work of similar initiatives globally, it starts with having the right structure in place to make the industry more accessible to artists from the top down. It also requires an integrated approach with actions and activities that will work in synergy to move the needle. As part of that education, networking opportunities, and marketing support are key.
At the heart of it all, Spotify is harnessing its power to drive discovery. So one of the first things Spotify is doing is connecting emerging female Arab artists to millions of listeners across the region by putting them on its platform. It created a new destination for them, the SAWTIK playlist, and are directing listeners to it from the most popular playlists.
Spotify invites all music fans from across the region to get to know these phenomenal female artists, who reflect the region’s musical richness and diversity and perform across a mix of different music genres from hip-hop to pop and indie.
By putting them on its platform, when they’re not yet signed to a label, Spotify is also putting their work under the music industry’s radar. This is very important with half of Arab female emerging artists having never recorded music, a large stumbling block to success.
Spotify is also giving them insider access to the industry through established singers who will mentor and guide them, and they couldn’t have hoped for a better godmother than Latifa. Other great artists like Carmen Soliman, Mohamed Assaf, Faia Younan, WEGZ have joined SAWTIK, driving their fans to the SAWTIK playlist and raising awareness about emerging female artists.
Another way Spotify is boosting emerging artists’ access is through education. Spotify will be conducting its first-ever female-only masterclass in the coming months, educating female creators about Spotify for Artists – a powerful free resource that helps artists to better understand and build their audiences, offering statistics and insights into who is listening to and discovering their music. This will really help them become aware of how to successfully market their music.
Alongside access, providing visibility is very important to help fast-track their careers. That’s why Spotify is running a 360 marketing campaign for SAWTIK with large digital billboards across the region, showcasing the first SAWTIK cohort of 16 artists, and dedicating its entire regional social media presence to the initiative around the launch. Spotify is also connecting the female creators with female visual artists for potential collaborations on album covers.
These are just the first steps and actions Spotify is taking which will help push these conversations forward and lead to positive and lasting changes.
Spotify invites everyone within the industry to join SAWTIK, which will create an ecosystem that can truly support the region’s female emerging artists.
At the same time, Spotify remains committed to finding new ways to uplift the careers of Arab female artists, and Spotify is in it for the long haul. Spotify believes that initiatives like SAWTIK will not only encourage the development of female Arab artists; it will fuel the growth of the Arab music industry as a whole.