Spotify may not be seeing spectacular dips in music streaming since Taylor Swift abandoned the platform and Adele decided not to stream 25, but its year-end lists are feeling the blank spaces.
Spotify’s 2015 Year in Music report spotlights the most-streamed artists and albums in 2015, and while historically the numbers have been slanted toward male artists, this year’s gender disparity is especially stark. In 2014, the Top 5 artists at least included Katy Perry and Calvin Harris, whose music features female musicians like Ellie Goulding, Haim, and Gwen Stefani.
This year’s Top 5 is all men: Drake, Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd, Maroon 5, and Kanye West. Of the Top 5 Albums, only Meghan Trainor found her way into the field dominated by Avicii, Major Lazer, Drake, and The Weeknd.
Spotify’s year-end charts, however, do not fully reflect the year’s biggest hits in the music world at large. In 2015, Taylor Swift and Adele both decided not to stream their latest music (and for Swift, her entire discography) on Spotify. If Swift’s album 1989 and Adele’s 25 had streamed on the service, it’s likely they would have made Spotify’s top lists. Swift’s latest album has sold more than 5 million copies, and Adele’s sold more than 3 million just in its first two weeks.
A separate list reveals the most-streamed female artists on Spotify: Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Ellie Goulding.
When powerhouses like Swift and Adele pull back from Spotify, it affects the visibility of other female musicians on the platform. A quick glance at Adele’s “Related Artists” section on Spotify brings up an almost exclusively female roster, including artists Emeli Sandé, Jessie J, and Paloma Faith. Part of the beauty in streaming is music discovery, and if platforms are driving away their biggest female acts with low pay, that is going to have a trickle-down effect.