exclusive August 27, 2019

BIGSOUND Hot Seat: Spotify’s Alicia Sbrugnera

BIGSOUND Hot Seat: Spotify’s Alicia Sbrugnera

Alicia Sbrugnera is the head of music culture & editorial for Spotify AUNZ.

Her role sees her lead the Spotify regional editorial team, focusing heavily on music curation, identifying and executing first-rate music playlist listening, and programming experiences.

A lover of Australian music, Alicia works closely with the global Spotify MC&E team, as well as developing creative and strategic projects globally.

TMN caught up with Alicia ahead of her BIGSOUND 2019 Hook-Up talk on Platforms at the 2019 music conference.

What are you most looking forward to at 2019 BIGSOUND?

Excitingly, we have partnered with BIGSOUND on First Nations House, which is part of our ongoing commitment to increasing the representation of First Nations artists on our platform, and off, and engaging the industry to support these efforts, as well. I can’t wait to see this come to life.

What panels, performances or events are on your ‘must-see’ list for this year?

Jeida Woods, yergurl, Stevan, Electric Fields, Baker’s Eddy and Hooligan Hefs are just a few acts that I am itching to check out live. We are fortunate enough to be able to dip into such a diverse range of musical styles in the work that we do at Spotify and these artists are all doing incredible work in their respective creative fields.

How important are events like BIGSOUND to the continuing development of our industry?

Tooling artists, managers, labels, publishers, bookers etc with knowledge and expanded thinking around their careers is super beneficial. A greater focus on encouraging the next generation of game changers, more acknowledgement of indigenous music and a focus on future music tech is a positive direction to be taking, and BIGSOUND is leading the charge in Australia.

What are the biggest challenges facing the music industry today?

One important challenge for the future of the music industry is not being left behind when it comes to diversity and inclusion; not just gender, but also ethnicity, disability, age, sexuality and much more. We need to create an industry that is truly representative of the people it serves, for the benefit of both fans and artists.

How can we future-proof the Aussie music industry?

We live in a culture of change and disruption and there can be a lot of paranoia and uncertainty in the music industry; but at the same time there has never been more opportunities for artists than there is right now.

On the positive side, what new technologies or innovations should we be celebrating or looking forward to?

The algorithm is a powerful tool in personalisation. With tools like this at our disposal, we are able to scale the work that our Editors do in the playlist space, bringing more discovery opportunities for artists and fans alike. We have many types of playlists on platform: Editorial, such as Front Left and A1, which are human-curated; Personalised, such as Discover Weekly, which are entirely algorithm-generated and based on a user’s listening habits.

We have recently introduced Personalised Editorial playlists which algorithmically personalise some of our editorial playlists – these playlists begin with human curation and are then individualised algorithmically so that no two playlists are the same. I’m also interested to watch how AI develops in the music production space.

Are we entering the age of the DIY artist?

There are opportunities for artists big and small in this day and age, it all depends on the artist and how they measure success.

What is driving artists towards becoming entrepreneurs and remaining independent or starting their own labels etc?

I believe that artists choose this pathway to maintain their individual voice and creative freedom.

What are your big predictions for the industry over the next 3-5 years?

Due to the new and evolving landscape of the music industry, creators in Australia (and from all walks of life) have countless opportunities to connect with fans right here at home and around the world. When the industry all comes together, it is going to grow even bigger.

Anything else to add?

Creativity, diversity, authenticity and connection is everything. This applies not only to artists, but to but to all facets of the music industry.

Alicia will deliver her talk on Platforms as part of the BIGSOUND Hook-Up at the Crystal Palais – Cloudland on Thursday, September 5.