World Your playlist contains only male artist titles? The fault of the recommendation algorithms

21:10  08 april  2021
21:10  08 april  2021 Source:   allocine.fr

Streaming algorithm is 'more likely to pick music by male artists'

  Streaming algorithm is 'more likely to pick music by male artists' Music streaming services like Spotify 'give much more exposure' to male artists, according to researchers who analysed the listening habits of 330,000 people.European researchers who analysed the listening habits of 330,000 people over nine years found only 25 per cent of the artists ever listened to were female.

Une étude européenne révèle que les algorithmes de recommandation musicale privilégient les morceaux d'artistes masculins. © Brothers91 / Getty Images A European study reveals that the musical recommendation algorithms favor the pieces of male artists.

Not easy for women to have a place in the music industry. A new European study reveals that the recommendation algorithms of streaming platforms favor the pieces composed by male artists. Those interpreted by women appear much lower in musical playlists.

Streaming platforms often boast of having created sophisticated algorithms, which stick to the musical tastes of each user. And that, that he loves variety, rock or drill and "ethereal". These recommendation systems, however, are far from perfect, as stressed by a recent study led by Christine Bauer from Utrecht University in the Netherlands as well as Xavier Serra and Andres Ferraro from the University Pompeu Fabra in Spain. These researchers have discovered that the recommendation algorithms abandon the pieces interpreted by female artists, and contribute to generating playlists dominated by their male counterparts.

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Before arriving at these conclusions, these researchers passed to the end comb for ten years the listening habits of 330,000 users. It turns out that only a quarter of the artists they used to listen were women. But what is this deamour for the musicians? The answer: the algorithms. Indeed, researchers have discovered that the first recommended piece was, on average, interpreted by a man. The listeners had to wait for the seventh or the eighth song before falling on an interpreted by a female artist.

"The results suggest that there is a considerable difference in the first average position of female and male artists in the classification of the recommendation algorithms. In short, the exhibition of the content of female and male artists is not balanced ", write researchers in the study.

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A vicious circle

This imbalance helps to create a vicious algorithmic circle whose female artists have trouble getting extracted. To anticipate the tastes of the listeners, the recommendation systems rely, in part, on the pieces they have listened before. Thus, if they have recently plunged into Justin Bieber's latest album, it is hard to bet that the algorithm will propose to discover artists whose musical universe is close to that of the Canadian singer. So far, no problem.

But if these listeners follow the recommendations of their streaming service and listen mainly from the titles of male artists, the algorithm will continue to offer them what he thinks of being a reflection of their musical tastes. Without the users realize anything.

If the situation may seem desperate, researchers say that Spotify, Deezer and Consports could remedy it easily easily. They performed a simulation of a musical recommendation algorithm and changed it several times so that female artists appear faster in the listening list than their male counterparts. A change that the system quickly took into account to offer more often the titles of singer-compositories.

"Of course, it is always easier to solve something in theory rather than in practice," Christine Bauer explained to the Financial Times, "but if this effect was similar in the real world, it would be great".

Caroline Drzewinski

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