Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Our Spotify Wrapped Superiority Complexes

I love the Spotify Wrapped season. As a huge music fan, I find myself getting extremely excited each year when the time comes for Spotify to show me my most streamed song and most listened to artists. Yet, each year, I find myself being at least somewhat let down by my previous year’s listening. When I saw that my most streamed song of the year was “The Hillbillies” by Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar (a song which was nominated for best rap performance at the 2024 Grammys), I couldn’t help but think “that’s it?” I was strangely disappointed that my top song of 2023 wasn’t an unknown song by a small artist more special to me individually.

Reflecting on this, I realized that the reason I was upset with my most streamed song is that it wasn’t niche or special enough. Each year, I’ve heard people being upset about Wrapped because it’s not all their favorite small artists and instead it shows some of the more popular and mainstream music that they are a fan of. In the world we live in, each thing that we enjoy has to be so niche because basic is used as a negative term. 

I have felt the push away from popular artists plenty of times in my music enjoyment. I have drifted further away from Tyler, the Creator, someone who was one of my favorite artists for the last four years, simply because I thought that people would judge it to be too mainstream. I have instead filled my playlists with similar, smaller (but still big) artists like Joey Bada$$, Westside Gunn and Freddie Gibbs. 

People have this drive to listen to more niche, underground artists with the hope of avoiding the label of having a basic or “TikTok” music taste. These artists give us a feeling of superior music taste, somehow being more knowledgeable or even just having a better ear for “quality” than others. But because of the musical superiority complex, people find the need to keep those artists to themselves because the outside world could never appreciate them the same way. So people hide their new favorite artists, gatekeeping them from the masses with the hope that they will not reach mass fandom to prevent the artist from turning their music into something that is more listenable to the mass audiences. This gatekeeping causes a lot of harm to the artists that people hold so dearly because of their own selfish interests of being seen as special and unique.

We all know Spotify pays their artists incredibly poorly, but I don’t think people realize how low the pay really is. Artists are paid $2.95 per 1000 streams they get, and even this number is decreasing, down 2 percent from the beginning of 2023. With these numbers, artists need to get five million streams annually, or equal to 416,667 monthly listeners (!!!),  just in order to earn U.S. minimum wage. By limiting the amount of people that are exposed to an artist, you actively are preventing their number of streams from increasing. When you gatekeep your favorite artist, you actively harm them from making a living doing the thing you want them to, forcing them to gain income from elsewhere and taking away the time that they can spend on making their art.

Our obsession with being special and niche is genuinely affecting the world around us. There are plenty of artists out there in the world who deserve to have much more listeners than they do, but rather than sharing them with the world, people choose to selfishly hide them. We could be using these kinds of powers for such better purposes. In the same way that we actively try to listen to smaller artists to feel better about our music, we could listen to smaller artists like these as a way to break away from the very limiting and dominant music industry. As a group, we have so much power in the way we listen to music, and it should be used to reward amazing artists for their art rather than hiding them because of it.

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    spotipremiumApr 1, 2024 at 5:11 pm

    Spotify Wrapped exposes our obsession with niche music, seeking superiority in underground artists. But this harms both artists and listeners. By gatekeeping, we limit exposure and deprive artists of fair pay. Let’s support deserving artists and break free from industry dominance.

    this comment inspire with spotipremiumapp. com