Spotify hip-hop boss Tuma Basa: ‘I’m not a gatekeeper’


Spotify’s global head of hip-hop Tuma Basa may run the playlist every rapper wants to be on – RapCaviar – but in an interview with Billboard he has batted away suggestions that he’s a gatekeeper.

“I’m not a gatekeeper. I don’t want to be called that. I feel like the gatekeeper era is over,” said Basa.

“The gatekeeper era is the past, when magazine editors, A&Rs, program directors, they all could determine people’s lives and everything. I consider myself a facilitator. My job is not a bouncer to keep people out or to kick people out, it’s to get people in. It’s to get the right people in and to keep the party popping.”

In the interview, Basa talked about using Spotify’s internal data to spot “BS” when people are fibbing about an artist’s momentum, and suggests that key to a successful pitch is “What’s the story? Where is this coming from? Who’s the crowd, what kind of momentum, what stage of the life cycle is it at?”.

He also encouraged artists and labels to build their own playlists. “I tell them, go build a story, go build a playlist on Spotify. Use our platform to build a following and for us to see the traction,” said Basa.

“I would encourage all the people on the outside to get on Spotify, build these playlists, build followings on playlists, the same way you would build a following on Instagram or build a following on Twitter.”

Although with Spotify’s recommendations still focusing on in-house playlists, those artist efforts will likely have to be discovered off-Spotify too.

Stuart Dredge

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