Spotify’s top playlists feature way more men than women. Not just in the algorithmic playlists, which reproduce inequalities in the music industry at large, but also in the curated ones, according to a thorough, stat-filled feature article on The Baffler. For example, Spotify’s top curated playlist of 2017 was RapCaviar, a rotating 50-track playlist with nine million followers. Over the entire month that The Baffler tracked, it included one woman-led song. One.
You know, like Janelle Monáe. Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images
This imbalance can trickle down into your Discover Weekly playlist, so if you’re just following Spotify’s lead on what to listen to, you can end up listening exclusively to male artists. Spotify’s “fix” for this was a Smirnoff-branded app that would “equalise” your playlist. The app is now gone.
If you want to get exposed to more female artists, you could try Spotify’s “Women Of” playlists. (As The Baffler says, these playlists promote “the idea that gender is a genre, or the idea that women artists should be valued for their gender instead of their music”.)
Or try some user playlists with a better gender mix: Ignatious Pop collected all the songs from the first two seasons of HBO’s Insecure (above). Erin La Rosa curated a short playlist of “Nasty Women”. Our sister site Jezebel collects themed playlists that tend to have a feminist bent.
This is a workaround, not a solution – Spotify still owes it to the public to better represent women in its official playlists, exposing them to millions of followers. But until they get their crap together, realise what they’re doing and find your own music.