'We're not scared to add artists to our biggest playlists': Austin Daboh on Spotify's role in the UK rap scene

'We're not scared to add artists to our biggest playlists': Austin Daboh on Spotify's role in the UK rap scene

Spotify’s Austin Daboh has taken Music Week inside the “education process” that Spotify has in place for artists to maximise their profile on the platform.

Daboh, senior editor at Spotify UK and previously of BBC Radio 1Xtra, was speaking to Music Week in the run-up to last month’s Who We Be show at Alexandra Palace, the platform’s biggest-ever live event in the UK.

He believes the current generation of UK rappers are fully in tune with what Spotify can do for them. “That comes from the fact that, historically, artists had to go above and beyond to prove themselves before mainstream media would latch onto them, so you had to know your shit,” he said. 

“You couldn’t just say, ‘Here’s a great song, the DJs are liking it, can you play it please?’ More often than not the answer was no. So artists had to hustle, and nobody hustles better than MCs in hip-hop if we’re speaking frankly, so they have to know their shit.” 

Daboh recognised the role of other streaming and video services in increasing artists’ profiles, but said, “In the last year, I’ve noticed a change in artists gravitating towards Spotify, understanding their numbers.”

He believe Spotify gives, "a level of data that no other service gives, to let people know how to better themselves on the service, big up [our] artist relations [department] they’ve done an amazing outreach job in speaking to this community and showing them how this thing works.”

However, he also spoke of “a big education process,” acknowledging that Spotify still has work to do in this area. “There are ones [artists] we haven’t felt love from because they haven’t quite been educated about what Spotify can bring to their ecosystem,” he said. “[But] everyone from Giggs, to J Hus to the emerging ones making music in their bedrooms and garages… The message is coming across loud and clear that Spotify is here to support you and give you global levels of exposure.”

In the full article, which features in the new edition of Music Week and online (for subscribers only), Daboh also outlined Spotify’s strategy when it comes to emerging artists.

“What we’re bringing to the game is a level of democracy, if your music is good and we believe there’s an audience for your record, we’re not scared to add you to our biggest playlist. You’ve seen that with artists such as Hardy, Mist, MoStack, Stormzy, Yungen… They’ve been on the third or fourth biggest playlists in the world.”

To read the Music Week review of Who We Be, which featured sets from Dizzee Rascal, Giggs, J Hus, Stefflon Don and more, click here

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