Where does the “power” of platformization reside? As is widely recognized, platforms are matchmakers which interface between different markets or “sides.” This article analyzes platform power dynamics through three of the most important markets that Spotify—the leading audio streaming platform—is embedded within: the music market; the advertising market; and the finance market. It does so through the lens of the playlist. Playlists can be seen as a central example of how platforms like Spotify employ curation or “curatorial power” to mediate markets in the attempt to advance their own interests. At the same time, playlists are an outcome of the conflicting pressures and tensions between these markets. As such, they provide a lens through which to view broader structural dynamics within the platform economy. As this case study of Spotify demonstrates, platform “power” is an always unstable and shifting outcome of the ongoing attempt to coordinate between various markets and actors.
- Curatorial Power