More than music

Music has always been social. Now it’s social media

Annie Symons, Staff Reporter

Illustration by Micky Flores-Nieves

In 2006, a new competitor to the music world became a cheaper alternative to downloading songs for $1.29 apiece on iTunes. Today, Spotify allows subscribers to listen to unlimited music and spy on their friends at the same time. What could be better?

As one of the most popular streaming services, Spotify sets itself apart from competitors like Apple Music by allowing its users to track the activity of anyone they follow. Users who are especially curious can even scroll through other profiles and browse their friends’ public playlists.

Junior physiology major Makaiya Russell is an avid Spotify listener, and the service has become an integral part of her daily life.

“I am very active on Spotify,” Russell said. “My best guess would be that I’m probably on it at least three to four times a day.”

Russell uses the platform as a way to stay up to date with what her friends are listening to, but sometimes, her observations will reveal more than someone’s favorite artist or album.

“When I use Spotify on my laptop, the people I’m friends with pop on the side with what they’re listening to, so I usually glance through to see what my friends have been listening to recently,” Russell said. “Sometimes I can even tell what their mood is for that day based on the playlist they have chosen to listen to.”

Listeners might also notice trends of music in their friends’ profiles that could reflect times of trouble. Russell makes sure to establish herself as a pillar of support when she senses someone struggling.

“Spotify keeps me connected to my friends because by looking through what they are listening to, I either find new songs to listen to or even pick up on how they are doing,” Russell said. “If I notice they’ve been listening to sad playlists, I’ll text them just to check in. I have also had a few friends do the same for me.”

Taylor Schmidt is a visual arts and English literature double major who is also a Spotify devotee. She is always eager to browse the accounts of her friends and followers.

“I can discover new songs, albums, or artists without being explicitly told about those things,” Schmidt said. “I also definitely go through people’s profiles quite often. Music taste gives you a great gauge on what type of person a friend or a romantic interest is.”

Subscribers’ profiles do not always mirror their activity on other social media platforms, but certain similarities can be found with a bit of research.

“My apparent lifestyle on Instagram isn’t too far from the types of playlists I have,” Schmidt said. “For example, you wouldn’t be surprised to find indie folk music on the Spotify profile of someone who likes to hike and camp and such.”

Spotify also offers opportunities for friends to work and create new musical experiences alongside one another, a benefit that Schmidt takes advantage of often.

“I send my friends Spotify links almost daily,” Schmidt said. “It’s so fun and convenient to be able to share songs like that. I have also made collaborative playlists in the past, which is one of my favorite things ever.”

At its core, Spotify is a music streaming service, but its emphasis on forming communities of people inspired by one another is what sets it apart from its competitors. It mirrors the activity on popular social media websites, and it provides an entertaining, easy way for people to come together.

“Music can create such a bond between people, and Spotify makes it easy,” Schmidt said.