Today we begin to unveil the top ten players in this year's annual Power 50 list.
Every year the rankings celebrate the most powerful and influential people in the Australian music industry.
The number ten placeholders are newcomers to the Power 50 and reflect the changes that have re-shaped the industry in the past 12 months.
Tomorrow we reveal the #9 ranking in the list. For the full full Power 50 you can pre-order here.
Alicia Sbrugnera/Marcus Thaine
Spotify Music Editor/Spotify Label Relations Manager
It's easy to forget that Spotify launched in Australia less than five years ago, such is the impact it has had on the way in which we consume music. Income from music subscription services in Australia jumped from $23 million to $46 million in 2015, propelling the local music market to its first growth in three years. Released by ARIA in April 2016, the figures showed a 4.94% rise in revenue; Spotify, as market leader, can rightly claim a large amount of credit for the jump.
Its growing popularity - the company announced it had passed 40 million paid subscribers worldwide in September - is translating into serious influence. Spotify support is increasingly viewed by artists, managers and labels as an important component of big and small release campaigns, and it exists as a potential outlet for breaking acts that lack radio support.
Spotify says that half of its global users listen to the company's editor-created playlists.
As Music Editor, Spotify Australia and New Zealand, Alicia Sbrugnera is one of 50 global curators who, between them, have created more than 4,500 playlists that cumulatively generate around one billion streams per week. Playlists are themed around genres (Monster Dance Hits, for example, with more than 149,000 followers at the time of writing), moods (Coffee + Chill, 62,000 followers) and new, breaking tracks (Hot Hits Australia, 385,000 followers). Spotify says that half of its global users listen to the company's editor-created playlists.
In addition to being lobbied by artist representatives, editors listen to 30-second snippets of the week's new releases in the hunt for perfect playlist additions. Independent and unsigned acts have as a good a chance as major label artists of being included. Editors move songs higher up a mix if it is popular with listeners, and will bump it down or move it to a different playlist if it is frequently skipped. Sbrugnera, who has previously worked as a music programmer for Foxtel's music channels, MTV and Mood Media, also recommends local content to Spotify curators in overseas markets. Speaking to News Limited in August, for a story inspired by the signing of Australian singer Emmi after Taylor Swift featured her song Sleep On It in a playlist, she said: "The international editors think Australia and New Zealand have the most exciting music coming out because they regard us as having one of the healthiest scenes in the world right now and they get incredibly vibed by the new tracks."
Local acts Starley (13.4 million+ monthly streams), Glades (1.2 million+ monthly streams) and Kllo (540,000+ monthly streams) all feature in multiple Spotify playlists. Most of Starley's listens are coming from Sweden, Norway and the US; Glades are most popular in the US; while Mexico and Spain are among Kllo's biggest markets. All three acts built their large Spotify followings in advance of significant radio play; a high stream count is increasingly seen as a persuasive pitch to radio programmers.
In his role as head of Label Relations for Spotify Australia and New Zealand, Marcus Thaine works with artists, labels and managers to build their audiences on the platform. One of the year's biggest success stories is the aforementioned Starley. The Sydney singer has become Spotify's 41st most streamed artist in the world, just three months after her music first appeared on the service. The addition of her song Call On Me to Australian and international New Music Friday playlists saw her clock up 150,000 streams in two days, with its subsequent inclusion in Spotify viral charts further accelerating its rise. The track's success soon spread outside the platform; it hit number one in Sweden, number four in Norway and number five in Belgium, and has cracked the top 100 in the US.
Thaine, a former assistant label manager at Siberia Records (Kirin J Callinan, Midnight Juggernauts) is the person to help artists and their teams crunch their streaming data, providing information such as the locations and ages of their listeners, and how many times a track in a playlist or on an album has been played or skipped. These analytics allow artists to make highly informed decisions about where and when they tour, creating opportunities for performing in places an act may not have previously considered. Such data-driven decision-making can lead to more efficient and cost-effective touring.
Thaine also facilitates exclusive live sessions for Spotify. Listener data again leads choices on the best location for each act's performance, with invitations to attend the events sent directly to relevant fans. All shows are recorded, with the resulting live performance packaged as exclusive Spotify content.