In 2017, Spotify launched Blak Australia, a music playlist that spotlighted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians. Since then, our support of First Nations artists has grown into Dreaming Loud, with multiple playlists and programs featured on the platform to amplify these talented creators.
Now we are excited to debut new playlists that highlight Indigenous artists and give listeners music tailored to different genres—and even tailored to family members. Fans will now find a hip-hop playlist called Proppa Bars, a mood playlist called Big Ancestor Energy, and two new kids’ playlists, Too Deadly Bub and Blak Hits for Kids.
To celebrate, we are updating all our existing First Nations playlists with a new visual identity created in collaboration with Aboriginal artist and designer Arkie Barton. The new design “represents a coming together of community and mobs from all across so-called Australia, specifically within the digital space of the Spotify First Nations arena,” shared Arkie.
We’re also introducing a new Music + Talk show called OUSS HITS, which goes behind the scenes of the music spotlighted on our First Nations playlists. The episodes are hosted by Alethea Beetson, an artist of Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi and Wiradjuri descent who is Spotify’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program Lead. Featured guests include Rhianna Patrick, Torres Strait Islander curator of the Original Storytellers playlist, and Em Nicol, Birri Gubba + Ugarem curator of the Blak Australia playlist.
For the Record caught up with Alethea to learn more about Dreaming Loud, her new show, and why it’s so important to amplify the work of First Nations creators.
Tell us more about yourself and where you are based.
I am a Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi and Wiradjuri woman based on Turrbal, Jagera, and Yuggera country in Meanjin/Brisbane in so-called Australia. I acknowledge the country that I am on and the many people from my community who paved the way for initiatives like Dreaming Loud.
How has Dreaming Loud evolved since its 2017 launch?
Spotify’s work in this space started in 2017 with the launch of the Blak Australia playlist, a dedicated space to playlist tracks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians. In 2018 two more Indigenous playlists were added to the platform: Original Storytellers, which is focused on singer-songwriters, and Deadly Beats, which is focused on hip-hop and electronic music.
In September 2019 Spotify partnered with BIGSOUND—of which I was a producer—to deliver “First Nations House.” This initiative was a full-venue takeover in Meanjin’s Fortitude Valley precinct created as a space to support, promote, and celebrate First Nations music, and included artist masterclasses and showcases.
In 2020, the BIGSOUND partnership pivoted online and hosted the Dreaming Loud showcase, a first-of-its-kind livestream where Spotify sent camera crews to various locations, including remote parts of the country, to capture performances from Indigenous artists in the BIGSOUND50. Some of the artists featured include Aodhan, Birdz, CLOE TERARE, Kee’ahn, Southeast Desert Metal, Matalja, and Oetha.
At what point did you get involved?
I was really impressed with the reflective practice within Spotify’s music team when it came to the work involved with initiatives like Dreaming Loud and began working with the team in 2021 as Spotify’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program Lead. Throughout 2021 and 2022, Spotify continued various First Nations partnerships and community engagement, which allowed me to learn more about the platform while also listening to what the community wanted from the platform.
In 2023 Dreaming Loud evolved from a suite of initiatives to a fully considered and constantly responsive community program and strategy to amplify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music on and off the platform. Our goal is to always support First Nations new releases and catalog music across all that the business does while also creating Indigenous playlists, initiatives, and partnerships. With Dreaming Loud in 2023, Spotify has launched several new playlists and the new Music + Talk show OUSS HITS.
What excites you most about OUSS HITS?
OUSS HITS is really exciting because it provides a self-determined platform on Spotify for Indigenous curators to talk about the music we love from our community. All of the cohosts have such a depth of knowledge in the Indigenous music community, so alongside sharing great songs, they share stories about Indigenous music history that you cannot find in the wider industry due to the way it operates within colonial frameworks.
Platforms like OUSS HITS contribute to the amplification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music on Spotify and also give the community an opportunity to find new music made by their community.
Why is it so important to share and amplify the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians?
Music has always played an integral role in storytelling on these lands, and always will. While I believe funding Indigenous-owned-and-led music initiatives is the priority, businesses like Spotify are called to provide more space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music. Celebrating Indigenous music through targeted playlists and across all of Spotify’s playlists helps ensure that the wider public have greater access to Indigenous stories.
It is also vital that places like Spotify support First Nations musicians at every stage of their careers as part of the ongoing commitment to respecting self-determination and sovereignty. This work will be extended to partnerships with First Nations-led-and-owned businesses in the future. Spotify exists on stolen lands, so supporting Indigenous music is part of Spotify’s obligations in this space.
Join Alethea as she talks about new music from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in an episode of OUSS HITS below.