Much has been made of Apple’s poaching of Zane Lowe and, of course, a number of producers from BBC Radio 1.
What could this mean for its efforts to be a ‘curator’ of music? Can we expect to see mainstays of broadcast radio within its new digital Apple Music service?
These questions haven’t really been asked of Spotify… until now.
The streaming service has snapped up three new staff members who are all experts in given genre fields.
And like Lowe, they all come from more traditional ‘broadcast’ backgrounds:
- Austin Kramer (pictured left): Spotify’s Global Programming Head For Electronic Culture. Kramer arrived at Spotify in April from US satellite radio giant Sirius XM, where he spent eight years. Both a presenter and programme director at Sirius, he is credited with bringing the company’s EDM channels to the forefront. His responsibilities included music selection and scheduling, brand promotion and consistency, host/DJ management, interviewing musicians and pop icons, industry relationships, scripting and overseeing channel imaging, and directing and hosting live broadcasts to millions. “There really isn’t anything he doesn’t know about electronic music culture; everyone in that world knows Austin,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.
- Tuma Basa (pictured centre): Before joining Spotify this year, Tuma Basa spent four years at BET, ten years at MTV and three years as VP of Music Programming at Revolt TV – the online hip-hop specialist broadcaster founded by Sean ‘Diddy’ Coombs. Basa held various roles at MTV during his tenure from 2002 – 2012, including Director of Music Programming Initiatives and Music Programming Consultant for MTV Jams – where he created over 2,500 hours of unique music playlists. “He’s our resident genius in hip-hop,” said Ek.
- Mjeema Pickett (pictured right): Daniel Ek calls Pickett “our unrivalled expert on R&B who’s helped programme everything from Washington DC’s top-rated FM station to VH1’s soul channel.” She spent four years at VHI as Music Programming Co-ordinator before becoming Manager of Music Programming & Music Video Acquisitions at MTV Networks in 2009. She then stepped up to become Director of Music Programming for VH1 and VH1Soul.
Daniel Ek said at a press conference in New York yesterday: “The music on Spotify keeps getting better and better. There’s a big reason for that, which is our people.
“Sure, of course we look at data to help figure out what our listeners like. But really another key reason for our success is that we have some of the most talented music experts working to curate the playlists that matter most to our users.
“They’re really the melody line and the beat that creates the link between awesome artists and happy fans.
“Honestly, you’d have a hard time finding anyone who is more serious and passionate about Spotify’s music. These guys are really helping shape the future of music. Thank you to them.”
Presumably Spotify has hired music curation experts in other genre fields, but the recruitment of this trio of ex-broadcast programming experts is highly significant.
As Spotify announces podcast and talk radio elements to its offering, it is starting to appear possible that a more presenter-led approach to curation could emerge in future.
Until then, Spotify now has in its midst thoroughbred programming experts.
Two of them have experience of MTV – where Zane Lowe also cut his teeth.
Apple hired Lowe in February. MBW revealed in April that the Cupertino giant had also snagged four further programming experts from BBC Radio 1.Music Business Worldwide