Women’s rights have been deeply rooted in music for decades, especially for women who turned to music to express their minds. To celebrate women at full volume, Spotify launched its EQUAL Arabia Music Program last year on Women’s International Day to spotlight Arab women artists all year round, from the emerging to the established.
A year after the launch of EQUAL Arabia, EQUAL’s inaugural Ambassadors were added to over 1.5 million user-generated playlists and 1000+ editorial playlists beyond EQUAL. The program has supported 12 Arab Ambassadors, the latest being the Tunisian superstar Oumaima Taleb for March.
New fans across borders share and discover EQUAL artists
More than 180 markets are now streaming the EQUAL Arabia playlist. While Morocco and Egypt have been driving the streams for EQUAL Arabia across the region, France, Germany, Netherlands, the UK, Canada, and Spain are among the top 10 markets streaming Arab women creators. In addition, songs by women artists featured on the EQUAL Arabia playlist were 1.6 times more likely to be discovered by a new listener. Fans are also sharing the work of their favourite artist featured on EQUAL Arabia, where the playlist saw over 63,000 shares on social media from Spotify.
“The EQUAL Arabia program is one of the most important Music Programs we have at Spotify and we are incredibly proud to see the playlist clocking more than 80 million streams. As an Arab woman in the music industry, I understand the hardships women face when they decide to follow their dream and pursue music. With programs like EQUAL we are really committed to leveling the playing field and uplifting the voices of women,”said Nada Elmeri, Spotify’s Artist and Label Partnerships Manager.
Celebrating the program’s first anniversary, singer-songwriter and EQUAL Ambassador Alicia Keys sent a message to women creators in the region recognizing their global impact.
“Big love to all the incredible, one-of-a-kind, magnificent female creators, producers, writers, DJs, arrangers, composers, and songwriters especially in Arabia. You are unstoppable. You are on fire,”said Keys.
Streaming spikes for EQUAL Ambassadors
From rising talents to established artists, EQUAL Arabia has worked consistently to provide equal opportunities for all women artists in the region. As a result, EQUAL Arabia Ambassadors have seen, on average, a 60% increase in their music streams in the past year. Celebrated artists such as Angham and Nawal El Kuwaitia also saw their streams increase by 90% and 50%, respectively.
In support of the next generation of creators, EQUAL Arabia debuted the program with the Moroccan-Egyptian rapper Perrie as its first Ambassador. Over the past year, Perrie has been added to over 50 editorial playlists and recently released her first-ever EP, Trauma, which she has described as her most personal music release.
“It was very important for me to be a part of the EQUAL Arabia Program because it sheds light on women’s voices in the MENA region and helps them spread globally. EQUAL Arabia gave me the chance to be featured on a billboard in New York’s Times Square,”said Perrie.
Among the rising artists who enjoyed tremendous success in 2022 were Dana Salah, the Jordanian-Palestinian artist who merges genres seamlessly, and Noel Kharman, who rose to fame after her mashup of Fairuz’s “Kifak Inta” and Adele’s “Hello“. As of March 2022, Salah has had 175% growth in streams on Spotify. As for Kharman, who witnessed a 153% growth in the past year alone, she continues to create soul stirring songs, her latest being “Makanak Khali“.
Commenting on EQUAL Arabia’s first anniversary, Dana Salah said:
“It is a great honour to be a part of such an amazing program that highlights women’s voices in the region. I released my first single in Arabic under my own name about a year and a half ago, and I met so many amazing female musicians along the way. I feel so lucky to be making music at a time when Spotify Arabia’s EQUAL program exists because it made me feel so supported as an independent female musician as well as giving me a sense of community amongst other female musicians.”
Since its launch, EQUAL Arabia has shined a spotlight on Arab women artists through monthly New York Times Square billboard placements, new content experiences and on- and off-platform support—all created to foster equity for women in audio and celebrate their contributions. On Spotify, listeners can find the EQUAL Hub, a dedicated space highlighting women creators. The EQUAL Global Music Program extends resources and opportunities to women artists and amplifies their music through the flagship EQUAL Global playlist and EQUAL local playlists. To date, the Global Music Program has celebrated 700 Ambassadors in their home countries and beyond.
“The music industry in the MENA region is ever-changing. There is more awareness about where women belong, as well as a new wave of women coming out to sing and spread their messages worldwide. I want to thank Spotify for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this program with other powerful women in the industry,”said Noel Kharman.