This screenshot shows the MusicAlaska Spotify page. The nonprofit’s Alaska Playlist Project includes an array of playlists dedicated to Alaska bands and artists across many genres. However, it’s just one of the ways MusicAlaska, a partner of Alaska Independent Music Initiative, intends to catalog and promote the state’s music scene. (Screenshot)

This screenshot shows the MusicAlaska Spotify page. The nonprofit’s Alaska Playlist Project includes an array of playlists dedicated to Alaska bands and artists across many genres. However, it’s just one of the ways MusicAlaska, a partner of Alaska Independent Music Initiative, intends to catalog and promote the state’s music scene. (Screenshot)

Land of the list: Spotify and directories could further connect Alaska’s music scene

“The algorithm is hard on all of us,” but maybe it doesn’t have to be.

Music, regardless of the time or talent put into it, isn’t guaranteed an audience.

And that can be gutting for independent artists who pour resources and emotion into projects that wind up being heard by only a few hundred people online, said Marian Call, a Juneau-based singer-songwriter, during the Alaska Music Summit, which was held Saturday in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center in Alaska’s capital city.

“The algorithm is hard on all of us,” Call said, while addressing the annual gathering of people directly and tangentially involved in making Alaska’s music scene.

But Call, who is part of the teams behind multiple statewide projects that aim to connect and promote Alaska music, said she hopes a burgeoning effort can change that.

[Keynote speakers: Summit celebrates Alaska’s diverse musical ecosystem]

The Alaska Playlist Project from nonprofit MusicAlaska is currently mostly a web of over a dozen ever-growing Spotify playlists by Alaska artists — defined as being part of the Alaska music scene at the time a song was released — that aims to put music made by Alaskans into more homes and public spaces. There’s also a YouTube channel, but there are dozens, if not hundreds, more songs included on the playlists.

Some playlists are defined by genre — for example, “Hardcore Alaska” —and others artists’ hometown —“This is Juneau-Alaska Music Channel.” The playlist project also allows for listeners and artists to submit songs in an effort to feature as much Alaska music as possible.

“Please add yourself to that website,” said Kat Moore, an Anchorage-based performer, composer and educator, to the summit’s crowd. “This is a way to share your music right now, right here.”

Criticism of Spotify — mostly over the amount the streaming behemoth compensates artists — is widespread enough to have its own (neutrality disputed) Wikipedia page, and Call said in a brief interview that she completely understands why some choose to avoid the service.

Still, she said, it’s a widespread, easily accessible platform for music, it was a “doable thing” during the COVID-19 pandemic and it allows for playlists. Call envisions those playlists being a curated way for Alaskans to discover music during a day at home as well as possibly a future soundtrack for bus rides to the Mendenhall Glacier as a way of exposing boatloads of visitors to Alaska music.

Plus, the hope is that bringing disparate parts of the Alaska music scene under one umbrella can lead to an algorithmic feedback loop where listening to one Alaska artist means being recommended another Alaska artist and then another.

“They’re using us,” Call said. “So why aren’t we using them?”

Moore, who said her experience with the playlists is mostly as a listener rather than an artist, called the playlists “magical” in an interview. But said they’re not the MusicAlaska project she’s most excited about.

That would be the not-yet-launched directories of artists and bands in Alaska and music-related businesses.

“Even though they are massive data projects, we have put in a lot of hours and are almost ready to launch them,” Call said to the crowd.

Like the playlists, the directories would allow artists to submit —or correct —information to present the most comprehensive listing of the Alaska musical artists possible.

That’s something that Moore said can further connect a far-flung music community, and it provides an easy way for musicians to make the world aware of their existence.

“That is huge,” Moore said. “Becoming visible without barring factors.”

Contact Ben Hohenstatt at or (907)308-4895. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

This photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska State Troopers. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Skull found in ‘97 in Interior belongs to New York man

A skull found in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior in 1997… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

Most Read