Homeentertainment newsSabrina Carpenter’s ‘Espresso’ Dominates Spotify Algorithms and Fends off Billie Eilish for...

Sabrina Carpenter’s ‘Espresso’ Dominates Spotify Algorithms and Fends off Billie Eilish for U.K. Singles Chart Crown

The battle for the top spot in the UK singles chart was intense, with Sabrina Carpenter's "Espresso" edging Billie Eilish's "Lunch" for the win

Friday, May 24, “Espresso” has held the number one position for four consecutive weeks. Carpenter’s breakthrough hit retains its title as the most-streamed track in the U.K., amassing 8.3 million plays. “Espresso” has ousted Taylor Swift’s “Fortnight” from the top spot, continuing to lead the charts and potentially becoming a summer anthem.

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This raises the question: What is behind the success of this catchy song? Is it a deliberate industry effort to make “Espresso” ubiquitous, or is it the result of an effective marketing campaign combined with a talented artist?

According to Spotify, various factors influence the appearance of a track in user playlists. These include a song’s current popularity, its inclusion in playlists created by both Spotify’s editorial team and regular users, and the listening habits of people with similar tastes.

When a song is trending, Spotify editors often feature it in playlists like Hot Hits UK or New Music Friday, boosting its popularity among millions of subscribers. Additionally, Spotify’s Discovery Mode allows artists to reach new audiences by adding their tracks to personalized listening sessions, with Spotify charging a commission on streams generated this way.

This playlist culture has transformed the way we consume music. For independent artists, securing a spot on a major Spotify playlist can propel them into the mainstream. Conversely, this trend has homogenized listening habits, reducing the individuality of curated personal music collections.

Spotify’s recommendation algorithms might be one reason ” Espresso ” dominates feeds. Dunya, a regular user from London, notes how “Espresso” frequently appears as her next song, despite her preferences for different genres. Similarly, Harlie, a fan of melancholic music, finds “Espresso” repeatedly suggested despite never having listened to it.

This does not undermine Sabrina Carpenter or “Espresso,” a catchy pop song filled with fun and double entendres. Instead, it highlights the song’s unexpected prevalence across varied listening habits. On Twitter, similar stories emerge. Users playing hip-hop or R&B radios find “Espresso” suddenly included in their playlists, suggesting possible algorithmic quirks or decisions.

Dr. Chris Anderton, an expert in the cultural economy and music business, suggests a financial aspect might influence “Espresso’s” prominence. He notes Spotify’s recent change to its autoplay feature, which now bases recommendations on suggestions rather than user history. Anderton cites strategic marketing by Sabrina Carpenter’s record label, such as her Coachella performance, connections to actor Barry Keoghan, her support slot on Taylor Swift’s tour, and the song’s viral appeal on TikTok, as factors contributing to its success.

Despite all the efforts from Spotify and artists’ teams to push a song into viral status, listener engagement is still crucial. For “Espresso,” this engagement is evident, with lyrics like “Walked in and the dream came true it for you” capturing listeners’ interest. Spotify reports that “Espresso” outperforms other viral tracks like Benson Boone’s “Beautiful Things,” boasting 257 million global streams and inclusion in nearly 6 million playlists.

Sabrina Carpenter
Sabrina Carpenter performing live, captivating the audience with her hit single ‘Espresso’.

Anderton also mentions that we should consider that Universal Music, the label for Carpenter, holds shares in Spotify. Additionally, the company Tencent owns shares in both Universal Music and Spotify, while Spotify has holdings in Tencent.

Are you following so far? “These large corporations are financially interconnected in multiple ways. Spotify, in particular, depends on major labels to access the music catalogs that fuel its growth. It needs to align with their interests,” he clarifies.

These industry practices are not entirely new but have evolved as streaming now plays a significant role in determining an artist’s success. Although there’s nothing to specifically indicate that Carpenter has benefited from these arrangements more than other artists, or even at all, it’s intriguing to think about how such negotiations could accelerate certain songs if a label chooses to promote a particular artist.

While multiple factors likely contribute to “Espresso’s” widespread success, the one clear outcome is that everyone is enjoying it. Is it genuinely that captivating? It seems so.

Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.

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