In the new issue of Music Week, we give you an inside look at Spotify’s inaugural UK songshop project at London’s SARM Studios. Part of their ongoing global Secret Genius initiative, across four days over 40 hitmakers descended upon the premises to collaborate on songs together – including artists such as Stormzy, Liam Payne, Charli XCX and Wretch 32.
On hand to talk us through how this initiative came into life was Paul Adam, Spotify’s head of songwriter relations, Europe, and Wayne Hector, songwriter for the likes of Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Westlife and Britney Spears and also a Secret Genius ambassador. Adam was quick to stress that that while the initiative, first conceived by Troy Carter to address how “songwriters were ignored on the platform”, may have initially been perceived as “a bit of a PR stunt six months ago”, it is having a tangible positive impact.
"I wouldn’t say [it's about] building bridges," said Adam. "I would say making them stronger, giving those bridges more structure."
Adam went on to hint at future developments that could come as a result of the initiative, ones which could result in better visibility for songwriters on the platform.
“Because streaming has exploded in the last few years, there’s no data there,” explains Adam. “Obviously, on CD or vinyl all the information is there. What we are also going to be doing is that you will see all the information on a platform in due course. It’s not for the writers and producers, that’s something else that Spotify has initiative there [for]. That won’t be up there next week, but in due course all the data will be there. We’re dealing with it on many, many levels. ”
This is purely creative, literally for songwriters to realise that we value what they do. I see it as part of a very, very long process
As Music Week’s exclusive research revealed earlier in the year, nowadays, you need an average of 4.53 people to write the very biggest hits. Yet, despite songwriters being a crucial part of the music ecosystem, the general headlines arising from their sector typically feature words such as ‘marginalised’ and ‘under-represented’ in the digital age. Put another way, songwriters haven’t always had the most harmonious relationship with streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple. On that topic, Adam stressed the importance of the connections being made not just between songwriters at SARM studios but also between Spotify and the talent involved.
“As far as I am concerned, this is just the start of a long process and it’s opening communication lines that might not have been there before,” said Adam. “This is purely creative, literally for songwriters to realise that we value what they do. I see it as part of a very, very long process. I’m getting a really positive feeling from this camp. Apart from whatever songs come out of here, there will be people writing together all over the place because they met here today.”