Behind the Music

shannon carragher

Posted: 26th October 2021

We've all made our own playlists, but how does it work being an actual Spotify playlist editor? We got the chance to sit down with Shannon Carragher who does exactly that. Find out more about her role and how she got into the position.

Read time - 4 mins

How would you describe your job?

My role is solely focused on the curation and programming of music on Spotify - building, diversifying and progressing the playlist ecosystem across Indie, Alternative and Rock music in the UK and Ireland. My goal is to ensure each user has the best experience possible as soon as they open the app.

A key pillar of my role is constantly having my ear to the ground to maintain and identify new spaces that are reflective of the vibrant music culture happening locally in our region as new sub-genres, niche communities, scenes, trends, moods and moments are always fast emerging and evolving. A big focus is also supporting artists from all backgrounds at all stages of their careers - from established stars to the emerging and underground - so they can grow and connect their audiences both on and off our platform.

How does social media feed into your job?

We’re living in a time where music culture and online culture go hand in hand. Social media is a cornerstone of how artists can communicate, engage and inform their audiences - plus, it’s the home of viral trends, inside jokes and cultural moments. It’s where creators and fans can express themselves,  support each other and where modern music communities are born.

Having insight into all of these aspects on a daily basis is important as an editor as it provides a more unique view on what’s going on across the landscape of artist and fan activity, how they express themselves online and how their audience is translating off of Spotify.

What's the most exciting part of your job?

As someone that has had a life-long relationship with music as a fan girl, who seemingly never grew out of it, everything about this job genuinely excites me. Artist discovery is always an exciting part of what we do, there are so many brilliant artists that we’ve discovered through our artists’ tool Spotify For Artists, who are just releasing their first track.

Witnessing the growth of an artist is another really exciting part - whether it’s hitting their first monthly listener or follower milestone, their first add to a flagship playlist or one of our RADAR: First Listen artists progressing through our playlist ecosystem. Beyond that, getting to work with a truly passionate and diverse team of music fans everyday is a total privilege.

What's a skill that is essential to your job?

Understanding audiences. I listen to hundreds of songs each day and curate a large number of different playlists, each with their own niches and nuances, so being able to connect the right tracks and artists to these spaces seamlessly and effectively is an essential part of my role - as well as it being lots of fun!

What do you do outside of music?

I still listen to a lot of music in my spare time and love going to gigs, so I’m deeply grateful that live music has returned in some form in the UK. The last 18 months have certainly led me to enjoy the cosier side of life - so lots of series watching, reading and spending quality time with friends, family and my cat are all things that I enjoy. I’m on an ongoing journey of finding London’s most delicious tiramisu too.

How did you get into your job role?

I started my career in the music industry when I was 18 and went on to gain experience across the landscape of radio promotions, distribution, developing independent artists and marketing - each role intertwined with the same goal of connecting artists with audiences.

I’ve always been deeply passionate about the genres I specialise in and this experience led me to where I am now at Spotify. As a long time user, I would always turn to editorial playlists and my Discover Weekly to listen and discover new music. Making my own playlists over the years was my way of journaling - so as you can imagine, this role was a proper dream! I jumped at the opportunity to go for it, which is never lost on me when I open my laptop each day.

What makes an artist stand out to you?

I don't think there's ever a particular formula that makes an artist stand out, each artist has their own individual elements that make them unique but it always starts with the music for me - then the artists' personal story really enhances their impact to me as a listener.

We’re witnessing a very exciting generation of music with so much diversity, where creators are multifaceted and are empowered to express themselves however they want to; they can be honest, fearless and confrontational in what they write about, break the boundaries of traditional genres and moulds, create albums in their bedroom and be their own record label... all of these things are encapsulating and fascinating to me.