Features November 14, 2019

Why Spotify is leaning in on Aussie hip hop

Why Spotify is leaning in on Aussie hip hop
Spotify's Senior Music Editor, Pete Stevens & Head of Music Culture & Editorial, Alicia Sbrugnera

Reflecting on Australia’s involvement within hip hop culture, it’s clear that there’s been a cultural lag when compared with countries like America, Europe, the UK, and other nations progressively leading the way. 

In the international market, there are commercial radio stations dedicated to hip hop, an interpolation of hip hop tracks added to heavy rotation on pop radio, as well as annual award shows, festivals and events that honour the genre and the artists who are paving the way. 

You start to question why Australia’s involvement is so mediocre when we do have impressive local talent emerging like Kwame, Tkay Maidza, Miiesha and Manu Crooks, all creating a lot of buzz. 

Noticing the gap in the local market, Australia & New Zealand launched their flagship A1 Hip Hop playlist domestically, which they hope will put a spotlight on the diversity and power behind this genre. 

“We often use the UK as an aspirational point of where we’d like to see hip hop in Australia reach in terms of broader acceptance,” Pete Stevens, senior editor of music culture & editorial at Spotify AUNZ, explains to TMN.

“We believe we could share a lot in common in terms of taking a genre born out of the US and seeing it move in a direction that is culturally relevant on a local level, to the point that it starts to be a mainstream proposition.

“We might be slightly behind in terms of the sort of mainstream impact the UK has been seeing, but if 2019 was the year where hip hop in Australia started bubbling, we are forecasting that 2020 will be the year it will explode.”

With this sentiment in mind, Spotify AUNZ celebrated the discovery aspect of A1 Hip Hop with a free live showcase in Sydney last week at The Metro Theatre featuring Triple One, Manu Crook$, Kwame, JessB, Hooligan Hefs and Sophiegrophy.

“The launch of our playlist live event aligns with the work that we have been doing with local creators and audiences since launch,” Alicia Sbrugnera, head of music culture & editorial at Spotify AUNZ, tells TMN.

“With a more focused effort and investment in local hip hop over the last two years, our brand-building efforts around the A1 Hip Hop playlist and ultimately solidifying our place on the map in tandem with hip hop’s rise as a genre globally.

“Hip hop is one of the most exciting and energetic experiences for audiences,” she adds. “We are hoping to build some synergy between on-platform consumption and the live experience to further connect audiences to the artists and their music. We believe this will further contribute to the genre becoming a huge local proposition.”

Curating the line up exclusively with homegrown hip hop talent, the Spotify team wanted to highlight the expansive sounds that fall under the wider banner of hip hop on a local level. 

“Hip hop, domestically, is very healthy so we opted for an all-local lineup to reflect this,” Stevens explains.

“These are local artists who have had an ongoing presence on the A1 playlist, as well as being a selection from the range of exciting artists that represent the new wave of hip hop in Australia and New Zealand.”

Playlist

With the successful live event highlighting exactly why Spotify AUNZ believe so strongly in the growth of this genre, they are determined to keep the momentum rolling with a focus on New Zealand planned. 

“We will closely examine the growing strength of the A1 brand from both a playlist, content and live perspective, to determine next steps,” says Sbrugnera.

“In collaboration with other internal stakeholders, we will launch a New Zealand Hip Hop content series which follows in the footsteps of our ‘A1 Hip Hop – Starting Point’ series earlier in the year.”

With their finger on the pulse, Spotify has always been some of the leading tastemakers in the industry. A1 Hip Hop Live is proving their commitment to supporting local artists and helping the musical community, and Sbrugnera reveals the team are always looking at where else they can shine a spotlight within their business model. 

“We are constantly looking at ways in which we can bring artists and fans closer together in unique ways.

“Given the success of Front Left Live locally, plus many other global Spotify brands in the live space around the globe, we will explore how we build but also evolve playlist experiences as consumption trends create undeniable demand in ANZ”. 

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