The First-Ever Spotify Awards Look To Shake Up The Status Quo With A Data-Driven Approach

If you haven’t yet got awards show fatigue, then good news: There’s another new player on the scene and it intends to reflect what listeners really want with a data-driven, fan-centered approach. Spotify has announced that its Spotify Awards will take place in Mexico City March 5, 2020 and unlike the inscrutable Grammys, which is taking its share of fire this week for a played-out, opaque process that leaves many observers scratching their heads at its selections and snubs, Spotify says its awards will based “100% based on user-generated data.”

In a press release detailing the awards, Spotify Managing Director for Latin America Mia Nygren explains, “Thanks to streaming and the true audience size of Mexico, users are in the front seat like never before. We decided to celebrate this by recognizing what users love based entirely on their listening. The Spotify Awards is all about this, giving everyone an opportunity to be part of the show.” Spotify says it will use user data to determine categories, finalists, and winners. The company has also partnered with Turner Latin America, who will broadcast the ceremony live on TNT in Spanish-speaking Latin America.

Presumably, Spotify will this first show as a pilot program to see if its awards show can compete outside of the crowded US market before expanding. The thought is exciting; while some awards shows like MTV’s VMAs often have a fan voting component, those numbers are still driven mainly by selections made by a committee and which fans choose to participate. Spotify, on the other hand, is much more democratized, since listeners can pick and choose what to play based on what they like — yes, with some help from algorithms, which can suggest new music but not force anyone to actually play it — meaning Spotify’s selections will be based on what people are actually listening to rather than the whims of an anonymous committee.

Will that mean more women being honored? Possibly: Many of highest-streamed artists these days are women. It could also mean that more underground artists receive popular exposure and that the results will be easier to predict based on Spotify’s publicly-available chart data. One thing is probably for sure though — even with a more transparent, data-driven process, you can bet fans will still find ways to complain when their faves get snubbed.