In the same week that Apple launched its New Artists: Middle East playlist, audio streaming giant Spotify has unveiled its Sawtik initiative to uncover and promote Arabic female singing talent across the Middle East and North Africa.
Partnering with Tunisian superstar Latifa Bint Alaya El Arfaoui, along with other influential women in the music business, Sawtik, which means “your voice” in Arabic, aims to amplify the voices of women both currently in the music industry, and those hoping to get their foot in the door, by making it easier for labels and fans to discover them.
“As an Arab female artist myself, I have witnessed how difficult it is to pursue a career in music,” said Lynn Fattouh, Spotify's consumer marketing manager in Middle East and Africa.
“Our journey to create a more inclusive creative ecosystem in Mena’s music industry has just begun, and we hope that these initial steps and actions will help push these conversations forward and lead to positive and lasting changes for female creators.”
Along with the launch of Sawtik, Spotify has created a regional campaign highlighting the musical and cultural contribution of female artists. Singers, including Emirati talent Almas, Sirine Miled from Tunisia and the Moroccan-Egyptian Perrie El Hariri, have taken the top spot on more than 18 of the streamer's flagship playlists, including Arab X and Arab Hip-Hop.
Latifa will also be working in a mentoring capacity with female artists, offering advice on breaking into and staying atop the music business.
“I’m grateful that Sawtik exists and I get to be a part of it,” says Cairo-born rapper Felukah, one of the emerging artists highlighted in the initiative. “Spotify has been instrumental in my growth as an artist, I’m really excited to both share and discover music from my culture through Sawtik’s playlist. This is the beginning of something powerful.”
This isn’t the first Spotify initiative aimed at raising women’s voices in music and media. Their Equaliser Project highlights female creators in the Nordic music industry, while their Sound Up initiative supports podcasters across the US, UK and Ireland, Germany, Australia, Sweden and Brazil.