One of the ways in which one moves from a low-information into a high-information listener of music is the awareness of where one’s listening choices fit in the highly segmented music industry. Once you know where the songs you tend to enjoy fit in, you can understand the sort of marketing appeals that are directed at you as well as the sorts of songs that you will be made aware of by those who set the playlists for the stations in your area. One might think that one had more freedom online in streaming, but a great many people listen to new music through curated playlists that are in fact divided by genre. Given the immense popularity of Adult Contemporary music (or adjacent formats in Hot Adult Contemporary, which slides closer to Top 40, or to Adult Alternative, which slides closer to rock) on the radio, is this market served at all by Spotify at present. And if not, what conclusions can we draw from this.
As a Spotify free customer, I decided to do an investigation of how a listener like myself might find curated lists of songs that I could see as Adult Contemporary. The first place to look are in the most popular channels, which discuss the state of music today. These ten channels are as follows:
RapCaviar – With almost 13 million followers, this channel focuses on new rap music.
Today’s Top Hits – With more than 26 million follower,s this channel focuses on Top 40 music.
Hot Country – With more than five and a half million listeners, this channel focuses on contemporary country.
mint – With about five and a half million followers, this channel focuses on dance music.
Viva Latino – More than ten and a half followers listen to Hot Latin music here.
Pollen – Just over a million listeners listen to genreless new music curated for quality.
Are & Be – More than five million followers listen to Hot R&B here.
Rock This – More than four and a half million followers listen to new Rock & Alternative here.
On Our Radar – Barely one hundred thousand followers listen to his curated list of diverse new artists.
Hot Rhythmic – Just over two million followers listen to Hot R&B here.
What we see from these ten formats is that, as one might expect, certain genres are heavily represented, with three of the ten genre charts focusing on the urban market with rap & R&B, as well as popular options for Top 40, Latin, Country, and Rock/Alternative, and even Dance listeners. Two of the least favorite channels focus on a small hipster audience that wants curated music, and of all of the channels included here, only On Our Radar would appear to be even Adult Contemporary-adjacent, although its inclusion of new country songs as well as rap and R&B would limit its appeal to core Adult Contemporary listeners. At least with its genre charts, then, Spotify is clearly not aiming at the Adult Contemporary market with its offerings.
Let us see if the morning playlists that are offered (it being a Tuesday morning as I write this) do any better, even if they are less popular by far with listeners. Daily Lift urges listeners to get in the zone and this playlist definitely would qualify as Hot AC. The Country Coffeehouse, rather unsurprisingly, features country music and country-adjacent Adult Alternative music. Chill Pop songs plays music that could be considered as Hot AC as well. Morning Motivation provides an eclectic mix of songs from the eighties, nineties, up to today. Morning Acoustic plays a mix of folk and acoustic singer-songwriter music. Jazz Rap plays more artistic hip hop. Feelin’ Good plays an upbeat oldies-centered playlist. Ready For The Day plays upbeat music with more of a smooth jazz approach. Morning Classical plays classical music, while Fresh Morning plays uplifting scores. Finally, Contemporary Blend plays a blend of pop, R&B, and Hot AC and other adjacent genres. Here is where the Adult Contemporary listener would be far more able to listen to songs that they would appreciate, although even here the range is titled a bit more towards R&B than would be the case if one listened to Adult Contemporary radio stations.
It would appear, therefore, that while Spotify does not target any genre-specific chart towards Adult Contemporary listeners that it does provide several mixes within music for the mornings that Adult Contemporary listeners, at least Hot AC listeners, would be comfortable with. At present it does not appear as if such listeners are a large target market for Spotify. But if streaming wishes to move further into the mainstream, this is a body of listeners whose extreme loyalty and whose love of particular trusted curators and a small collection of songs would be ideal for the playlist approach that Spotify updates. It is only a bit of a mystery why it is that Spotify has not sought to appeal to this particular target demographic before.