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INSIDE SPOTIFY'S
GEN-Z ALT HUB, LOREM

By Michael Dominguez

In a distant land far, far away from FM rock stations, there's a digital generation of music-obsessed fans and artists who grew up on Tame Impala, Frank Ocean, One Direction and mixtapes. They've also adopted online communities like Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter and TikTok. The kids—and their taste—are alright after all.

Spotify's alternative playlist, Lorem captures the "online" spirit of Gen-Z and their appetite for lo-fi pop, light rock and chill vibes. Artists featured range from bedroom faves like beabadoobee, Clairo, Joji, BENEE and Omar Apollo to superstars like Harry Styles and Billie Eilish.

We chatted with Senior Editor Lizzy Szabo, who programs the playlist, about how she goes about keeping up with the Zoomers and the culture behind the community that drives Lorem. we're guessing you eventually just embrace the all-lowercase lifestyle.


How and when was the playlist created?
We soft-launched in June 2019, converting a pre-existing playlist (Left of Center) to Lorem in hopes of creating a space for an inclusive community of fans without it being specifically genre-led. We wanted to create something that felt special, that both fans and artists would see as a mirror of their own taste and aesthetic. At the time, we didn't have a list that spoke to these super-exciting artists, who felt like the new wave of indie/bedroom pop, or their audiences.

Remember when Rex OC played those two shows at the El Rey a few years ago and the fans knew every word? Lorem is for them. It’s really hard to describe it sometimes—it’s kind of indie kids who are kind of into pop, too, and eager to discover new artists but who still have love for recent classics. Lorem was created as a space for artists and fans to flourish, to lift new artists, to let them inspire the look and feel week after week through bespoke design.  

Listening to Lorem plays like a Gen-Z AAA station; there are the major-label tastemakers, indie darlings and genuine diamonds in the rough. What is the process of curating the playlist? How do you find the super-deep indie cuts?
First off, we have this amazing playlist-submission tool, where any artist, big or small, can reach us by submitting their songs for playlist consideration. It’s the best way to stay on top of upcoming releases from the artists I’m following. Additionally, a lot of artists funnel up through Fresh Finds—suggestions from incredible editors around the world—or discovered in Spotify rabbit holes.

We’re constantly assessing the world online, whether it's blogs, Twitter, Instagram, artist co-signs ... The Lorem listener is open-minded, fluid, so we are, too. A new listener would hopefully see some names they know and find something new. Listeners who have been there from day one have been in the passenger seat for artists that are now huge. There's a balance of established artists, like Harry Styles, Post MaloneClairo, and newer acts ... BLACKSTARKIDS, Remi Wolf ... and sometimes even nostalgia/deep cuts thrown in, from The Beach Boys to Gambino. It should feel like a mixtape, like a hug. If a song makes you feel something, it doesn’t matter if it’s from a big artist or someone who is just starting out; chances are the Lorem fan will love it. And it’s so important for us to take chances. 

What has engagement been like with Lorem? What are the commonalities in the subscribers/listeners?
From day one it felt special—and not just the numbers but how people reacted. A Reddit thread even had some hilarious conspiracy theories about what "Lorem" meant. [Peep the real story here.] I went to a show late last year where I heard someone refer to Lorem as a genre, and that was wild.

But, really, at Lorem’s core, it’s the artists who make it special. There’s more than a handful of artists who were Lorem darlings who have reached Today’s Top Hits. The list has consistently shown one of the highest save rates of all of our playlists, which shows how engaged listeners are, coming back to listen day after day. The listeners skew young, the majority being under 24, and it leans female-identifying.

This feels like a community that is well aware of what’s mainstream and where they fit in. Are there plans to tap into this base via special events—in the future, obv—branding opportunities or other vehicles of engagement?
I miss live shows more and more every day. One day, hopefully, it would be sick to do something in the live space — a festival stage, curate our own show or make some Lorem dream collabs come to life. We have a limited run of Lorem merch in the works, which is going to listeners, artists and press as part of our first Lorem marketing campaign—which feels surreal. There are more fun things in the works/my head but for now, look out for a brand video [above] and new playlist video integrations on-platform.

What are your favorite discoveries in Lorem?
“peas” by boylife, “Put Your Records On” by Ritt Momney, everything from BENEE and Peach Tree Rascals, Charlie Burg, “Little” by Jany Green, “homebody” by Kamal., LoveLeo, “Come Over” by Nolie, “Calvaire” by Spill Tab, “Lucky” by Zeph, “Don’t Be Afraid” by Tycho Jones ... This new track “Winona,” by Miloe, is really lovely. It's hard not to give you 100 names.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE...
The inevitable and the unexpected commingle. (11/25a)
TOP 100 WEEKLY MARKETSHARE:
THE TIGHTENING
Cue Archie Bell & the Drells. (11/24a)
STATE OF PLAY
IN THE U.K.
The first entry from our 2020 U.K. print special is now online. (11/25a)
AMAs TACKLED FOR LOSS BY SNF
Oof (11/24a)
MUSIC ORGS IMPLORE CONGRESS FOR HELP
The gang's all here. (11/24a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
ZOOM THANKSGIVING
We're virtually stuffing ourselves.
TRUMP'S LAWSUITS
He's lost 25 out of 26, and so tired of winning!
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