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Sanremo 2023: Four Important Takeaways From the Italian Song Contest

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The 73rd edition of the Sanremo Festival ended just a few days ago but its aftermath will last for a long time. Not just for the quantity of funny memes, but also for the impact that the event had on streaming platforms and on the growth of the artists’ profiles on social media. And finally, for spurring a debate topic that concerns not just music but the society we live in: The absence of women among the five finalists. Was that just a matter of appreciation of the songs – like many artists themselves said – or is there something deeper?

Also: Did the six new artists coming from Sanremo Giovani really benefit from the participation in the main competition?


The impact on streaming platforms

The TV show ended, so the competition is now shifting to the digital world. Like after the last editions, streaming platforms are dominated by Sanremo songs, as clearly shown by Spotify’s Top 50 (Italy and Global) and Apple Music’s Top 100 Italy. The most streamed songs on both Spotify and Apple Music are Lazza’s “Cenere” (“Ashes”), Mr. Rain’s “Supereroi” (“Superheroes”), and winner Marco Mengoni’s “Due Vite” (“Two Lives”) – the top three contestants of Sanremo 2023.

The impact of Sanremo on streaming platforms can also be observed on a global scale. Six songs of the top 10 of Spotify’s Top Songs Debut Global are from Sanremo: Besides the three already mentioned, also Madame’s “Il Bene nel Male” (“The Good in the Bad”), Rosa Chemical’s “Made in Italy,” and Tananai’s “Tango.” Is streaming the festival’s true democracy?

Growth on social media

The Italian agency of influencer marketing FLU analyzed the contestants’ impact on social media. In the digital world, the most active audience was the one comprised between the age of 18 and 24. It is another confirmation of the generational turnover that characterized Sanremo in the last years, supported by the growing number of younger artists participating in the contest.

Overall, Sanremo generated more than a billion views for the hashtag #sanremo2023 and millions of views for the videos published by the festival’s official profile. The artists’ profiles also benefited from such a visibility and massively raised their number of followers. Rosa Chemical saw a growth of 158%, Mr. Rain of 98,84% and Colapesce & Dimartino of 55%. In absolute numbers, Marco Mengoni surpassed all the others once again, with 400,000 new followers.

The absence of women among the five finalists

Marco Mengoni immediately said that he wanted to dedicate his victory to “all the women who participated this year and brought wonderful songs on stage.” During a press conference the day after, he added that Italy still has a lot to do when it comes to gender equality. The female artists themselves did not want to accuse anybody and minimized the issue. Still, the last time a woman won Sanremo was with Arisa’s victory in 2014.

Before the beginning of Sanremo, Elodie said in an interview with Vogue Italy: “Male artists don’t get bothered as much. If you’re a male, you do your thing and that’s it. But I have the impression that someone is always there to judge me. That pisses me off. I get the feeling that I’m not good enough. Men get judged less.”

There are many factors to consider, starting from a deeper understanding of the demographics of those who vote from home. But the gender gap is still an issue in the Italian music industry.

Equaly, an Italian community of female professionals of the music industry, analyzed the problem closely. In the last year’s edition of Sanremo, women were 36% of the contestants. This year, that figure fell to 33.7% – 11 female artists out of 28 contestants. No wonder women had fewer chances to make it to the final stage of the contest.

“There are several reasons why the Italian music market is not very inclusive,” said Francesca Barone, co-founder of Equaly. “For sure, a few factors are the way Spotify’s algorithms work, the success of trap music, the pandemic giving women the burden of family care, and also Italy’s traditional mentality, still dominated by patriarchal schemes.”

The new artists at Sanremo

If you are 20 and have the possibility of showcasing your talent in Italy’s prime music event, the final result is maybe not too important. Still, it is worth noting that the six artists coming from the contest Sanremo Giovani occupy the lower positions of the final ranking: with a No. 20 ranking, Colla Zio were the most successful. It is difficult to compete with household names and their fan bases built over the course of decades.

Prior to the event, Billboard Italy asked artistic director and main host Amadeus about this issue. He said that he just wanted to give newer artists the right space: “This world needs to trust the young, both in music and entertainment. People my age often reject their ideas, but they’re wrong. It’s us who need to adapt and enter their world, also because they spontaneously fall in love with the past.”

Sethu, Shari, Colla Zio, gIANMARIA, Olly, and Will paid the price of not being known to the general public before the beginning of the festival. Sanremo’s younger audience has been getting bigger and bigger, but how many of them actually vote?

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