Spotify believes MENA will drive streaming future: Claudius Boller
Spotify, the leading audio streaming platform, earlier this month unveiled the top artists, albums, songs, playlists and podcast genres from the creators who helped make the soundtrack of the year for more. of 381 million users worldwide. This year’s âWrappedâ report came to life through Spotify’s in-app experience, outside creations, and collaborations with content creators like Khaled Mokhtar. Additionally, there will be a viral dancing cactus activation at City Center Almaza on the last two weekends of the year.
Taking a closer look at the top-circulating lists in 2021 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Daily News Egypt spoke with Spotify’s managing director for the region, Claudius Boller, and label manager. and partnerships for the MENA region, Wissam Khodur.
Boller and Khodur both discussed the latest trends in the music scene and what âWrapped 2021â has said about Arab music listeners.
Can you give details on the situation of music streaming in the MENA region (Arab countries)? What are the most listened to songs here?
Boller: We launched in the MENA region three years ago and we were blown away by how fans and creators engaged with our platform. It has been inspiring to see the emergence of a new generation of artists over the past few years. Seeing how their music increasingly crosses borders on Spotify is a reflection of our deep commitment to Arab creators, where we are constantly looking for ways to strengthen their connection with a global audience. We have also recently expanded to Libya and Iraq, to ââfurther support local artists and foster the local music scene. We believe this region is the future of streaming.
Khodur: The MENA region is so diverse, with nuances varying from region to region. Huge growth has been seen in hip-hop streaming in North Africa and Egypt. We also see local rappers in Palestine top the list as well. The genre Sheilat is making a comeback in the Gulf region and has made its way into the mainstream and in Jordan the love for indie continues to grow.
The most popular song in Egypt this year was “Ghaba” by Marwan Pablo, followed by the viral hit “Astronaut In The Ocean” by Masked Wolf. Wegz’s âAsyad El Sootâ, Marwan Pablo’s âCTRLâ and Afroto’s âMsh Bel 7ozzozâ also top the lists. Four of the top five hits are local hip-hop hits, and that tells us a lot about the genre’s trajectory. We are seeing similar trends in Morocco, the region’s largest rap market. Rapper ElGrandeToto’s “Mghayer” is the most listened to song in Morocco and of course CKay’s “love nwantiti” (feat. ElGrandeToto) landed at number two with Tagne’s “Nadi Canadi”, Inkonnu’s “7ali Ya 7ali” and ElGrandeToto made another appearance on the list with “Haram (Pablo II)”.
In the United Arab Emirates, the scenario is very different, as this market is more westernized, with a large expat community. So it was no surprise to see Lil Nas X, Masked Wolf, The Kid LAROI, Dua Lipa and Olivia Rodrigo dominate the Wrapped songlist. The Gulf neighbor of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, has once again shown its openness to international music including K-Pop, while spending the year listening to local tunes such as “Leh Al- Jefa” by Abdullah Al Farwan and “Ashkar Jamalek” by Abdullah Al Mukhles.
In the Arab world, according to data from Wrapped 2021, the most popular artist is ElGrandeToto, followed by Egyptian rapper Wegz. Amr Diab is among the top 5 most popular artists, further emphasizing his timeless heritage.
In the MENA Wrapped lists the majority of artists are from Egypt and Morocco, so it will be interesting to see how these two countries continue to develop as front-runners for the region in the years to come.
Who is your target audience? Which segment is the most engaging with Spotify?
Boller: Our intention is to reach everyone and our platform is open to everyone. That being said, we know the region has a young, tech-savvy population, very engaged with Spotify and always on the lookout for new content. Our listeners in Egypt are actively creating their own playlists, sharing song recommendations with their friends through our collaborative playlists. We’ve also just launched Lyrics, which makes it easier for them to play their favorite songs.
Khodur: It is also important to note that we are seeing high engagement of listeners outside of the MENA region with artists from the MENA region. For example, a Saudi indie artist called Hajjaj was featured on the cover of Spotify’s global flagship playlist, âFresh Finds Popâ and Moseqar from Egypt generated great interest, which has been added to various Lo- playlists. Global Fi.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the number of subscribers on the platform?
Boller: Culture happens at Spotify and we see it every day on our platform. Since the pandemic, our listeners have adopted new habits and consumption patterns. As a result of curfews and closures around the world, we have seen, for example, a drop in car streaming during the early stages of the pandemic. We’ve also seen listeners increasingly tune in to wellness and meditation content as they use audio to relieve stress. Family-related content has also increased, with families spending more time together at home. Despite the pandemic, streaming continues to grow, and as our third quarter earnings report shows, our monthly active users are up 19% year-over-year.
Do you plan to host live concerts on Spotify?
Boller: We currently have no plans for live concerts in the region on Spotify. Earlier this year, we launched Greenroom, as we are constantly reiterating and innovating future audio formats to empower creators and their fans to connect in new ways. We build Greenroom with the creators and artists who make Spotify great in mind, maximizing interactivity and deep connections between attendees in the live rooms, where all creators can come together and host live discussions. In these virtual rooms, you can talk about what you love with artists and fans who share the same interests. If you want to see your favorite artist perform, we have our own Spotify franchise called “60 Second Concert” with a wide range of regional artists singing their latest releases to their fans.
Can you tell us more about your âSawtikâ initiative?
Khodur: We have seen for a long time that the number of Arab female artists decreases over the years, especially among emerging artists. We decided to do some research to better understand the status of Arab female artists and the barriers emerging artists face when it comes to pursuing a career in music. We’ve partnered with Nielsen, a global data and information company, to conduct market research with artists, listeners and music experts. We also sent a separate and anonymous survey to music labels based in the MENA region. The research results revealed that there is still a long way to go when it comes to gender equality in the music industry. We felt that there was a need for initiatives like Sawtik to provide emerging female artists with the support they need to start their careers. We launched Sawtik with the intention of bringing more visibility to emerging female artists by giving them access to on / off platform marketing support, education, networking opportunities and labels to discover them.
Through our Sawtik playlist, we wanted to create a destination for emerging female artists to amplify their music and for our listeners to discover their work locally and globally.
What criteria do you use to select participants?
Khodur: First of all, the artist must be female, over the age of 18, has lived in the Arab world, or visits frequently. The artist must have an original song and must not be signed to a label. Artists can contact [email protected], and our Music team will add to the initiative artists who reflect the diversity of musical genres in the MENA region.
Why did âPerrieâ gain such popularity in Egypt?
Khodur: It’s amazing to see Perrie thrive in a male-dominated genre like hip-hop. That’s what we need to see more of, a more inclusive scene. Perrie’s music carries that raw energy and she adds something special to any track she’s on. She’s also worked hard and produced new music which shows just how committed she is. His recent collaboration with Abyusif on “MAMLAKA” appears in Spotify’s Top 50 Egypt. Other than that, emerging female artists can learn from Perrie in regards to how she builds her fan base on Spotify, she constantly engages with her fans and invites them to listen to her music on Spotify. Our discovery tools have also improved the exposure of his songs by directing listeners to music they might like and it works by serving songs to our listeners based on their streaming history.
What sets the Egyptian public apart from the rest of the Arab world?
Khodur: Egypt has always been a powerhouse in terms of musical production and breaking up musicians. Non-Egyptian artists who wanted to be introduced to the region had to first enter Egypt, and once they got there, they did so regionally. Egypt has always been the fountain of Arab creativity from ancient times until today. Musical tastes in Egypt today show how the sounds mixing local hip-hop and Mahragant really resonate with young people. The narrative element of these songs is very strong and relevant. The Egyptians also like to follow global successes like the rest of the region.