Spotify managing director MEA, Claudius Boller about Arabic trends, its Wrapped series and why the next big global star could soon arrive from this part of the world.One year on from its regional launch in 2018, we talk to
What interesting trends have you noticed in the Middle Eastern market?
Earlier this year, we conducted a global research study called Culture Next. The study reveals all the cultural, technological and behavioural trends that are shaping the Millennial and Gen-Z generations. On a regional level, we collated insights from individuals and influencers across markets including the UAE and Egypt to get further localised insights. Culture Next and the insights it revealed was truly an eye-opener – I did not realise so many people from within these generations are in touch with their emotions and unafraid to express themselves freely, or the fact that they crave discovery, finding new things, ideas, music, hobbies and experiences. What I found interesting is that although they may appear to be spending plenty of time on their screens, they value audio and see it as an escape from visual stimulation overload. One of the things that I found truly fascinating in the past year is the fact that users in this region are exploring and are deeply engaged with music from all over the world. For instance, Korean-pop in Saudi Arabia is widely popular and this was very evident in October when K-pop sensation, BTS came to perform in the Kingdom. The fact that K-pop comes from a totally different culture and is in a completely different language, its catchy and fun rhythm and style has mesmerised millions of people around the world. There is also Egyptian Mahraganat being played elsewhere, Maghreb (northern African) hip-hop is big in France—and trap is booming in both MENA and Latin America. We have music coming from the Levant and Egypt trending in Brazil. With more than 3 billion playlists on Spotify, we are here to let everyone discover new and different music cultures from around the world.
Who’s the most popular Arabic artist on Spotify?
Each market is quite unique when it comes to listeners’ taste and streaming habits. In Saudi Arabia for instance our “Wrapped 2019” data revealed that Iraqi singer, Aseel Hameem is the Kingdom’s top streamed artist, with her hit song ‘Al Mafrood’ also becoming the number one most streamed track for the year. In countries like Morocco, where Urban music sees most popularity and demand, artists such as French duo PNL topped the Wrapped 2019 list, followed by Algerian star, Soolking. In Egypt, on the other hand, the number one most streamed artist for the year 2019 was Amr Diab – whom we recently had a great and successful collaboration celebrating his legacy and global impact in Times Square. This just goes to show how diverse and rich this region is. There’s plenty of potential for the next big hit to come out of MENA.
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