(By Jem Aswad | Published on June 8, 2017 for variety.com)
Spotify will announce today that it is launching Secret Genius, a global initiative that will highlight the contribution songwriters and producers make to the music industry and artists’ careers. This project will take the form of awards, songwriting camps called Songshops, curated playlists, podcasts and more.
“There is no music business without the song,” Troy Carter, Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services, told Variety. “The whole idea around Secret Genius is to shine a light on these people behind the scenes who play such a big role in some of the most important moments of our lives. When the general public hears a song they automatically associate it with the artist who sings it, not the people behind the scenes who make it happen, so we thought the title Secret Genius was appropriate.”
Justin Tranter (DNCE, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber), who will lead a next Songshop later this month with his friend and frequent collaborator Ricky Reed (Twenty One Pilots, Halsey, Meghan Trainor), told Variety: “For me, as a kid desperate to make music, I thought the only way I could do it was to try to be a superstar — which is a fun thing to be but it can be exhausting and degrading. So to have another way to make music that reaches the world is an awesome job for people to aspire to have. Spotify is the first platform to really crack the code of how to create and share and consume music in the digital age, and for the trailblazer of music in the new world to shine a light on songwriters is a really cool and beautiful thing.”
The inaugural Secret Genius Awards, which will honor the top songwriters, producers and publishers in the industry as well as up-and-coming talent, will take place in the fall. The event will consist of nomination categories, presenters and performers.
“We’ll have a more robust announcement around the awards, but it will have a peer-based voting system involving the songwriting community that will select some of the winners,” Carter said. “Songwriters know who the greats are and who the up-and-coming songwriters are. Other awards will be for who had the biggest songs, so some will be subjective and some will be objective.”
The Ambassador Program will see 13 songwriters from around the world host a Songshop where they invite their peers to collaborate to create a hit song. A pilot program was held earlier this year in London and it went “fantastically,” Carter said.
Tranter said of the upcoming Songshop, which will take place in Los Angeles later this month, “Ricky Reed and I have been friends for a long time and we’ve worked on a lot of music together for Kesha and Halsey and others, so we thought we’d combine our resources. It’s awesome that Spotify would sponsor a camp that can bring artists and songwriters and producers together who maybe wouldn’t get the chance to work together for three or four days and seeing what happens.”
Songwriters participating this year are:
Alex Hope (Australia) – Troye Sivan, Broods, Wrabel
Boi1da (Canada) – Rihanna, Drake, Bryson Tiller
Claudia Brant (Latin America)- Natalia Jimenez, Ricky Martin, J. Lo
Erika Ender (Latin America) – Luis Fonsi, Justin Bieber
James Fauntleroy (US)- Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake
J Kash (U.S.) – Maroon 5, Jason Derulo, Charlie Puth
Wayne Hector (U.K.) – Nicki Minaj, Little Mix, One Direction
The program will also have Secret Genius Playlists curated to include some of the biggest hits from Ambassadors’ body of work, and podcasts where songwriters tell the stories behind their songs and themselves.