Photo by Frank Septillion on Unsplash

A fascinating question, eh? And thanks to this morning’s update report from UK competition regulator the CMA, we now have some answers.

They’re in a table on page 44 of the report which breaks down “streams on playlist type as a % of UK streams by music streaming service in 2021”. So while it’s UK-only, the data is sure to be of wider interest.

The table is based on the CMA’s analysis of data provided by four streaming services: Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

It divides streams into six categories: editorial (playlists curated by humans at the service); algotorial (playlists curated by algorithms); station/radio (their radio-like features); autoplay (tracks that automatically play when a playlist finishes, served up by an algorithm); user curated (playlists made by listeners and other curators who don’t work at the service); and non-playlist (everything else).

Here’s the table (if you’re on a device where it isn’t displaying, you can also find it here):

Playlists table

Some standout points. Spotify has a much higher percentage of user-curated streams, with its three rivals indexing much higher on non-playlist streams. Amazon Music has a lot more streams coming from its stations/radio features than the other streaming services.

YouTube Music has a much bigger chunk of algotorial streams than the other three, while editorial takes a slightly bigger share of streams on Apple and Amazon’s services than on Spotify or YouTube Music.

(Caveat: if the latter two are closer to the top end of the 5-10% range shown in the table, and the former two closer to the bottom of their 10-20% range, it may not be such a big difference.)

Besides this individual breakdown, the CMA’s report provides a summary of this data across all streaming services too.

“Around 20% of streams were from playlists provided by the streaming service (as opposed to playlists created by the user themselves) and a further 11% of streams were delivered through autoplay functions on streaming services or ‘stations/radio’ provided by streaming services,” it explains.

“The single largest mechanism through which music was streamed was ‘user curated’ playlists at 42%.”

Read our analysis of the CMA’s report, and its decision not to refer a full-blown market investigation of streaming music and the music industry, here.

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