Music and Algorithms
IMPAKT TV with Wilbert Mutsaers and Christine Bauer
Location: Online programme
Data and algorithms have totally transformed the playing field for experiencing music. How do they generate the recommendations? What role do AI and algorithms play? And how important in this process are the pluggers, recording companies and streaming service editors? For this IMPAKT TV broadcast in partnership with Dutch Media Week we’ll be putting these questions to two experts: Wilbert Mutsaers, head of Spotify Benelux, and Christine Bauer, Assistant Professor on Human-Centered Computing at Utrecht University.
Streaming services have a major influence on the success or otherwise of contemporary pop artists, so it’s crucial to get included on the right playlists. The streaming services have created a vast pool of music that we can dip into at our leisure. Some personalized playlists such as Discover Weekly, Release Radar and Daily Mixes are created by algorithms. In other words, AI systems create playlists that match the songs you have previously enjoyed listening to. Other playlists are made by editors and curators. How do these two types of playlist differ? Do algorithms and AI also allow for unique and unexpected musical discoveries?
Some critics are pointing to the danger of algorithms perpetuating patterns of inequality in the music world, such as by recommending male rather than female artists. Others note that contemporary genres such as hip-hop, which used to have a more underground character, are now incredibly popular thanks to streaming services.
The streaming revolution has created new revenue models for the music industry, and there are discussions about the proportion of the income that finds its way to the musicians, the method used to calculate it, and the transparency of the streaming services. For some musicians, direct income from the streams is less important than the extra visibility and gigs they yield. Which platform is the best for musicians – and why?
In this edition of IMPAKT TV we talk about what’s changed because of algorithms in the music world, and the role streaming services and we the listeners – the consumers – play in all of this. Are we now more free or less free to shape our own taste?
The conversation will be moderated by Friso Wiersum (European Cultural Foundation, Expodium) and Rosa Wevers (Gender Studies PhD candidate at Utrecht University).
This edition of IMPAKT TV is produced in partnership with Dutch Media Week.
Wilbert Mutsaers― Speaker
Since 2017, Wilbert Mutsaers is Head of Benelux at music streaming service Spotify. Previously, he was CEO at Mojo Concerts, the largest live music company in the Netherlands and station manager of 3FM and FunX at Dutch public broadcast NPO. Together with the broadcasters, Wilbert was responsible for the content strategy, marketing, programming, innovation, music, and social media strategy of the radio stations. He was also responsible for seven editions of the annual cross-media fundraising campaign 'Serious Request'. Mutsaers has an academic degree in Communication Science and has been Creative & Marketing Director at Universal Music Netherlands and Sony Music Benelux. Mutsaers is co-founder and first chairman of the Dutch Pop Coalition and a member of the Dutch Creative Council, the advisory body for culture and creation for the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Education, Culture and Science. Wilbert started his working life as an academic researcher and teacher of Communication Science - Culture and Media - at Radboud University.
Dr. Christine Bauer― Speaker
Christine Bauer is an assistant professor at Utrecht University. Her research activities center on interactive intelligent systems. In the last years, she worked on various practical aspects of recommender systems. Most recently, she focuses on biases and fairness in intelligent systems and music recommender systems in particular. Her knowledge and experience with the music business are particularly valuable assets for this research. She holds a Doctoral degree in Social and Economic Sciences, a Master's degree in Business Informatics, and a Diploma degree in International Business Administration. In addition, she pursued studies in jazz saxophone. She has authored more than 100 papers and holds several best paper awards. Photo credits: Foto Weinwurm