Technology

Spotify has just invented its own patented A&R technology to predict breaking artists. Should labels be concerned?

Spotify has just invented its own patented A&R technology to predict breaking artists.  Should labels be concerned?

A new track is uploaded to Spotify almost every second of every day. So using the service as a talent scouting tool can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

Spotify knows this – and it’s working on something to fix it.

MBW has discovered that Spotify has invented technology that predicts which “relatively unknown” artists on its platform “are likely to break” in the near future.

According to a new US patent issued Tuesday March 1 and obtained by MBW, Spotify has developed what it calls a “system and method for breaking artist prediction in a media content environment”.

Spotify’s new invention works by determining “one or more early adopters” from its user base and then collecting data from their listening habits.

The system can then predict which artists are most likely to break up based on the listening habits of those early adopters.

The patent explains, “A user who has requested playback of media content from a plurality of breakthrough artists is determined and assigned the role of an early adopter.

“The break-artist prediction logic can then predict future break-artists based on additional play requests from an early adopter interacting with their media device through the software application.

Spotify notes that a user flagged as an early adopter “does not need to know they are an early adopter, as the media server responds by serving the requested media content, as it responds to all users.”

It’s A&R, folks, but the listeners do all the work. Even though they “don’t need to have any knowledge”, they do.



In the folder, which you can read in full here, Spotify uses Figure. 4 (pictured above) to illustrate its breakout artist prediction system.

Spotify says the system includes “a back-end media server system” and that media server “may include break-artist prediction logic”.

“The user determined to be an early adopter doesn’t need to know they’re an early adopter.”

Essentially, this “prediction logic” observes the consumers that Spotify has identified as “early adopters” to see which breakthrough artists they play and replay.

Spotify explains in the filing that “artist prediction logic can determine which artists have gained popularity in the past based on […] historical data”.


Spotify explains that an artist can be considered “out of stock” if “the artist’s popularity exceeds a minimum play threshold while having experienced growth in popularity that exceeds a minimum growth threshold.”

Spotify suggests as an arbitrary example that a “minimum play threshold” could be 200,000 play requests on the platform in a month. A “minimum growth threshold,” meanwhile, could be a 300% month-over-month increase in read requests.

Spotify points out that these measures are “simply exemplary, and a minimum playback threshold may be higher or lower”.

Additionally, according to the filing, the numbers for determining whether an artist can be considered groundbreaking or not may vary “across genres, formats, and audience demographics.”

“For example, a minimum play threshold for a breaking pop singer might be 200,000 play requests per month,” Spotify explains, “while a minimum play threshold for a breaking pianist who records classical tunes might to be 20,000 read requests in a month”.

“Spotify argues in its patent that ‘if a service provider can predict that an artist is going to break out’, then that service provider could also ‘seek to partner with the artist early on for…recording deals’.” “

Spotify argues in its patent that “if a service provider can predict that an artist is going to break out,” then that service provider could also potentially “seek to partner with the artist early on for potential promotional and promotional offerings.” ‘registration”.

(All major labels read: yes, this indeed indicates that Spotify is exploring the possibility of using this technology to secure early-stage “record deals” with talents on the verge of breaking through. We hope that all of this suits you perfectly. )

A partnership between a “service provider” like Spotify and an artist, the company’s patent adds, could also “provide an opportunity for the service provider to push media content from artists to playlists and radio stations to develop the artist’s fan base”.

By doing this, Spotify says, it would play a role in “associating the service provider with ‘hip’ or ‘new’ artists” and thus “making the service provider the source of discovery for new and interesting media content”. .


Using streaming technology to predict hot artists in the music business is nothing new, of course.

London-born Instrumental, for example, is well known for its AI-powered A&R scouting platform, which was able to scout huge hits like Lil Nas X and Tones & I months before those artists signed on. major label deals that helped their careers take off.

Instrumental, in which Warner Music Group acquired a stake in 2015, uses proprietary machine learning combined with human intelligence to comb streaming services and discover around 5,000 new artists a week.

Another talent scouting technology platform, that of Travis Rosenblatt interferencesays it’s been used by bands like Republic Records and Interscope to discover emerging artists.

And AI-based platform Musiio runs a proprietary “hit potential algorithm” that it claims can automatically classify and categorize new music – as well as measure its hit potential – from the content of the music. herself.


Spotify is looking to develop what is essentially its own A&R tool to identify breaking artists, then – according to the patent filing – potentially “partner with the artist early on for potential promotional and recording deals” adds a interesting new layer to the power dynamic between Spotify, artists and labels.

A patent for a native Spotify talent scouting tool is a potentially game-changing prospect, particularly against the backdrop of rival SoundCloud which recently launched a new service offering of top artists – called its “roster” – which will particularly see successful independent artists “sign” directly to SoundCloud.

Remember, it wasn’t until 2018 that Spotify started offering artists direct distribution deals – including payment in advance, but then scrapped the plan.

Spotify also launched its own DIY distribution service in 2018, only to abruptly retire the service a few months later.

Could the technology detailed in this patent signal a potential change in Spotify’s approach in the future?The music industry around the world