Platform pop: disentangling Spotify’s intermediary role in the music industry

Robert Prey*, Marc Esteve Del Valle, Leslie Zwerwer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    205 Downloads (Pure)


    It has been widely recognized that platforms utilize their editorial capacity to transform the industries they intermediate. In this paper, we examine the intermediary role of the leading audio streaming platform – Spotify – on the recorded music industry. Spotify is often called the ‘new radio’ for the influence it has on breaking songs and artists, and for the role it plays in music discovery and consumption. Our purpose is to determine whether Spotify is leveling the playing field or entrenching hierarchies between major labels and independent labels. We attempt to answer this question through a longitudinal analysis of content owners (major labels or ‘indies’) and formats (albums, tracks, or playlists) promoted by Spotify through its global Twitter account: @Spotify. As a carefully curated venue for corporate speech @Spotify provides a window into continuities and changes in Spotify’s corporate strategy. By using @Spotify as a proxy through which to track patterns of promotion between the years 2012 and 2018, this paper offers a novel empirical examination of how Spotify is shaping the consumption of music, and in turn the structure of the recording industry. In doing so, we provide evidence for speculating about the future of the recorded music industry in a platform era.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInformation Communication & Society
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22-May-2020


    • Social Media
    • Platform
    • Music industry
    • Spotify
    • Political economy
    • Twitter

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