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The Future of Music Curators

The Future of Music Curators

The role of music curators has undergone a notable change in recent years thanks to the evolving music industry. With the start of streaming platforms—such as Spotify and Apple Music—playlists have become a vital tool for artist growth. 

However, the landscape of playlist curation has shifted dramatically thanks to features like Spotify's Discovery Mode and artificial intelligence (AI) for recommendations. 

The question has emerged: Is there still a future for music curators? 

As we witness these changes, we must examine whether AI-driven recommendations are as effective as the human touch—and how the role of music curators will change. Let’s go!

What Are Music Curators? 

Music curators are individuals or organizations responsible for selecting and organizing music content for various platforms, events, or audiences.

Music curators can operate in various contexts–including streaming platforms like Spotify or Apple Music, radio stations, music blogs, record labels, music festivals, and cultural institutions such as museums or galleries. 

They have a deep understanding of music genres, styles, and trends and use their expertise to create curated playlists or collections that cater to specific audiences or themes.

In the digital age, music curators often leverage technology and data analytics to inform their curation decisions.

What is the Future of Music Curators?

It wasn’t long ago when being placed on a Spotify playlist could put an artist into the mainstream. For instance, Cardi B’s hit—Bodak Yellow—hit number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite little radio play. 

And the phenomenon wasn’t limited to rap music: Popular Spotify playlists catapulted many stars, across all genres, towards stardom. In turn, the top playlists on Spotify became hot; in fact, they replaced people’s favorite radio stations for new hits. 

However, these days could be numbered. Why? TikTok has a lot to answer. 

The short-form video app, following dramatic growth in 2019, changed the industry. It created a robust algorithm that gave people what they wanted: Their favorite content based on personal preferences. 

After that, Spotify implemented many changes that changed how they created playlists. The company introduced standardized pitching, whereby all artists and managers submit tracks for playlist consideration. 

As the automated submission system began, editors became more anonymous and less linked with specific playlists. In a handbook to the editorial team, Spotify told curators they can’t claim ownership of one playlist. In addition, Spotify introduced new AI features like the AI DJ, suggesting human expertise guides the DJ. 

However, last year, Spotify laid off various employees involved with playlist curation. And over time, the shift away from playlist focus has had major consequences for the company overall. In response, music businesses have also changed their promotional strategies. 

Spotify is also now promoting something called Discovery Mode; this allows labels and artists to submit songs for algorithm pushes in exchange for a lower royalty rate. For now, Discovery Mode songs are only available in radio or autoplay listening sessions.

According to Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, “As we’re getting better and better at personalization, we’re serving better and better content and more and more of our users are choosing that,”

Will Music Curators Lose Their Jobs? 

Following the layoffs at Spotify and the growth of AI in music, many people are wondering whether there is a future for music curators. Here’s the truth: Although the role will change significantly, there should always be a place for music curators. 

AI is already a fantastic technology, and its algorithms are superb at identifying patterns. However, they could need help to replace the nuanced emotional understanding that human music curators bring to their work. 

In addition, many concerns surround the homogenization of taste and the potential overlooking of niche genres. If algorithms prioritize popular and commercially viable songs, there’s a risk that music diversity may decrease. 

However, music curators can offer a more holistic and nuanced approach to curation, ensuring a wide range of musical styles. 

Furthermore, there’s likely to be a collaboration between AI and music curators. Music curators can leverage AI to discover and showcase new music. AI algorithms can provide valuable insights and recommendations, while human curators bring their unique perspectives, creativity, and cultural knowledge to the table. 

Human curators are also excellent for building community engagement. Yes, AI algorithms can provide personalized recommendations, but they may lack the ability to build genuine connections and interactions among listeners. 

For these reasons alone, there will still be a role for music curators in the music industry. 

Final Thoughts 

Music curators have played a key role in the music industry in recent years. Although the role will change due to AI, music curators will always play a major role in choosing playlists. 

We deliver the crucial tools to grow and nurture your music business at Reprtior. Chat with us today and see how service can grow your music business!

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