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This is BrukOut! Seani B sits down with Spotify

DIGITAL AGE: Many producers today are relying entirely on software to create beats and tracks

THE WAY our music is being consumed is changing rapidly.

Reggae and dancehall have been traditionally slow in the uptake of new mediums, but that seems to be shifting in the online world of streaming.

Spotify now processes nearly one billion streams each day from its 140 million active users – which include 48 million paying subscribers – who listen to its catalogue of 30 million songs. Now, that is an audience base! The opportunities to present yourself to new audiences are immense – and this is something the company takes great pride in.

“Streaming is very important to introducing new audiences to the genre, and the numbers are growing each week,” Austin Daboh, Senior Content Editor of Spotify UK, tells me.

“In total, there were 44 million reggae streams in the UK in the past month alone. That’s huge considering there are only a small handful of platforms giving the genre exposure.”

The numbers are mind-boggling, and are set to climb even higher.

But, I was intrigued to know how large the audience pool for these plays are right now.


EXPERT: Spotify UK's Senior Content Editor Austin Daboh

“We can see that there are about 450,000 daily listeners of reggae music on Spotify in the UK,” Daboh tells me.

I must admit, I feel I came on to the Spotify train quite late.

The systems within Caribbean music have long been set, and the transition from seven-inch vinyl to CD took what seemed to be an eternity. The sideways move from CD to streaming (and on multiple devices) has very much begun.

I was given the honour of programming the influential Dancehall Queens playlist, and that comes with hefty responsibility! I was amazed at the reaction from fans around the world, and happy with the positive feedback from it.

One of the big success stories recently is Charley Blacks’ Party Animal, which was released in 2016 to considerable success in the core reggae centres around the globe. The potential of the song to unchartered markets has seen it rack up an incredible 100 million Spotify streams – and counting.

“You could wait for three months to see how your music was doing – now, you get instant feedback,” says Daboh.


MOVING WITH THE TIMES: Protoje is aware of the positive effects of streaming on the reggae and dancehall scene

This demonstrates that it isn’t just the certified, obvious names that can benefit from a strong Spotify campaign. The company itself has not been slow to see the growth in this market.

“Spotify has an unflinching commitment to dancehall and reggae in the UK – as demonstrated by our suite of UK-curated playlists that have more than one million followers combined.

“While Reggae Classics pays homage to the all-time greats, contemporary playlists such as Dancehall Queen and Chilled Reggae give a platform to the current stars and emerging acts of the genre. We understand the importance of supporting to entire Caribbean region and Massive Soca Hits aims to shine a spotlight on a genre often underrepresented by traditional media,” Daboh adds.

The flexibility and importance of the streaming services is not lost on the artists themselves –
including Protoje. He tells me:

“I have been speaking to my team recently about the difference that streaming is making to what we do. It allows you to judge when to put out an album or grade when to release a single or when you start to promote a track.

INSTANTANEOUS

“All songs are up there, and you can see what music people naturally gravitate to. When you used YouTube as the main judge, you could sometimes wait for as long as three months to see the effects – now, it is instantaneous.”

Is this the consumer pushing the technology, or vice versa? Proto is very clear on which way he sees it.

“Technology is leading fans to streaming as an initial point of consuming. How do you compete with technology? If you don’t keep up, you become a dinosaur in this business.”

The connection between artist and consumer is becoming closer and closer. Austin adds:

“We should see this leading to more informed and better-calculated release decisions, as well as being consumer-led in the cream rising to the top. The demand is clearly there for existing users, and the potential for opening and expanding makes the prospect an exciting one. The road ahead seems to be an open and expansive one, including new innovation from Spotify.”

We are about to launch a brand new playlist – Dancehall Kings – that aims to represent the grittier side of bashment and dancehall.

I’m proud to announce that this list will be curated and created by myself, and I am looking forward to representing the music we all love to even more people via Spotify.

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