Independent v major record labels: Do they have the same streaming power (law)?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Major and independent record labels compete for listener attention on streaming platforms. Given the superior bargaining position of major labels, biases in music recommender systems to favour more popular content, often coupled with ownership in the platform, an obvious question arises: do major record labels compete on a level playing field with independent labels in music streaming? In search of evidence this note looks at the distributional properties of the number of times a song is streamed on Spotify in the UK. We investigate whether there is a difference between the process that generates streaming numbers for UK-based major label artists and UK independents. We provide evidence of a difference in the power-law exponents of these two groups, and argue, using the scale-invariant feature of power-law distributions, that this may be a result of the difference in the streaming growth process, caused by major record labels' disproportionate presence in Spotify-generated editorial or algorithmic playlists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1510-1526
Number of pages17
JournalEconomics Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Jul 2022

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