DUBAI: Some of the most prolific female singers in the Arab world, including Umm Kulthum and Fairouz, have paved the way for present superstars such as Nancy Ajram, Elissa and more. Despite their legacy, the number of Arab female artists who have been signed by regional music labels has significantly reduced over the last decade, according to studies by Spotify.
This is just one of the disheartening statistics uncovered by the music streaming platform through months of comprehensive research which has prompted Spotify to establish Sawtik, a new initiative dedicated to supporting and nurturing the immense talent to be found among Arab women creatives residing in the Middle East and North Africa.
“The diversity and richness of the female creatives in this region is greatly underrepresented,” said Claudius Boller, managing director for the Middle East and Africa at Spotify. “This is why we started Sawtik.”
Sawtik, which translates to “your voice” in Arabic, aims to celebrate and support unsigned female artists from the MENA region and boost their careers by helping them break into the music industry via marketing campaigns, workshops and educational opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Sawtik playlist on Spotify will serve as the gateway for labels to discover new and emerging female talent. Some of the artists on the playlist include Algerian rapper N1YAH, Egyptian singer Felukah, Dubai-based artist Layla Kardan and many more.
“We looked globally at female versus male representation on the platform, and it is clear that female artists are underrepresented. We decided that we need to get down to what the reason for the underrepresentation is and what can be done about it,” shared Boller.
The initiative debuted with sixteen emerging artists across a different mix of genres hailing from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and the UAE. Artists include Saudi Arabia’s Jara, Moroccan rapper Khtek and Emirati singer Almas.
Tunisian superstar Latifa was also tapped to help mentor and guide the rising talents. “It’s incredible how passionate and excited Latifa is about Sawtik. From people like Latifa, we can all learn so much. Her expertise here is wonderful and we’re happy to have her on board on this initative,” said Boller.
With over 320 million monthly users globally, Spotify can no doubt provide unsigned female artists with the exposure needed to further their careers as well as opportunities to be discovered by labels internationally and listeners across the world.
“Spotify will continue to find new ways to uplift the careers of female artists from the region,” said Boller. “This is just the beginning.”