When Spotify took a look at the data for 2017, it realized that there wasn’t a single female lead voice in the ten most-streamed songs of the year. This got someone in the company thinking about doing something about gender balance. The result is a new algorithm that balances male and female voices under certain circumstances.
The Smirnoff Equalizer–yes, the vodka brand is involved–is an API that seeks to promote equality for female musicians.
Everything starts by analyzing your listening habits over the last six months. Once you get your gender percentage breakdown (i.e. how many songs feature male vs. female voices), you’ll be served a playlist representative of your musical tastes but with the genders offered up equally.
If you want to tweak things a little bit, there’s a slider control that can increase the number of female artists in the playlist. Presumably, someone could slide the control all the way to the male side, but I haven’t heard what happens then. I’m also not sure what it does with groups featuring both genders.
This is from Smirnoff’s Global Brand Manager: “The Smirnoff Equalizer not only drives awareness but also allows Spotify users to take direct action by increasing the number of tracks from women artists in their playlists.”
Me? I like it. Anything that increases the opportunity for music discovery is fine by me. Others, though, aren’t so sure.
Noble overdue move? Social engineering? Or something else, like a way to sell more vodka to women?