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News June 9, 2017

Is Spotify’s ‘Secret Genius’ program an olive branch to songwriters?

Is Spotify’s ‘Secret Genius’ program an olive branch to songwriters?
Australian songwriter Alex Hope

The launch of Spotify’s songwriter-focused initiative Secret Genius today is set to celebrate the behind-the-scenes rights holders who it has largely been at war with in recent months.

It comprises an Ambassador Program, where 13 songwriters from around the world will host workshops to collaboratively create music. Titled Songshop, the program received a pilot in London this year, and is similar to APRA AMCOS’ annual SongHubs initiative.

It will also see the listing of playlists on Spotify that compile the ambassadors’ hit songs, as well as podcasts where songwriters will deep dive into their works to reveal the secrets of the writing process. describe how some of their well-known songs were made.

Later this year Secret Genius will host an award show where music industry figures will vote to honour songwriters, producers and publishers. The event will consist of nomination categories, presenters and performers.

Australia’s own Alex Hope is participating in the inaugural Secret Genius program. The songwriter behind tracks from Troye Sivan, Tina Arena and Guy Sebastian will be joined by Canada’s Boi1da (Rihanna, Drake), Sweden’s Noonie Bao (Zedd, Alessia Cara) and US writer Starrah (Halsey, Nicki Minaj). See the full list below.

  • Alex Hope (Australia) – Troye Sivan, Broods, Wrabel
  • Boi1da (Canada) – Rihanna, Drake, Bryson Tiller
  • Claudia Brant (Latin America)- Natalia Jimenez, Ricky Martin, J. Lo
  • Erika Ender (Latin America) – Luis Fonsi, Justin Bieber
  • James Fauntleroy (US)- Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake
  • J Kash (U.S.) – Maroon 5, Jason Derulo, Charlie Puth
  • Justin Tranter (U.S.) – DNCE, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber
  • Lori McKenna (U.S.) – Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Hunter Hayes
  • Noonie Bao (Sweden) – Zedd, Alessia Cara, Charlie XCX
  • Ricky Reed (U.S.) – Twenty One Pilots, Halsey, Meghan Trainor
  • Savan Kotecha (U.S.) – The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, One Direction
  • Starrah (U.S.) – Drake, Rihanna, Halsey, Nicki Minaj
  • Wayne Hector (U.K.) – Nicki Minaj, Little Mix, One Direction

It could be said that the launch of Secret Genius is a move to smooth things over with songwriters. It follows the settlement of a class action lawsuit with a number of artists and a $21 million settlement with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA). Following its settlement with artists, Spotify set up a US$43.4 million fund to compensate publishers and songwriters who hadn’t been properly paid.

“Songwriters and producers are the backbone of the industry and we want to help celebrate these incredibly talented people,” said Troy Carter, Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services. “The goal of Secret Genius is to give credit where credit is due by shining a light on these amazing creators.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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