Serendipity Visualizes Simultaneous Listening Worldwide

Serendipity

For the past two months, we’ve hosted Spotify’s very first media artist in residence, interactive artist Kyle McDonald, who has built something truly inspiring. His creation, Serendipity, is an animated world map that shows when two people listen to the same song at the same time.

Yes, it’s a mesmerizing piece of art. It’s also true to life, based on real-time data.

In order to show up on Serendipity, two human beings must have started listening to the same song on Spotify within a tenth of a second of each other — basically, at the same time — in different towns, cities, states, nations, timezones, or even hemispheres.

Although they might not speak the same languages, live in the same climates, or believe the same things, they’re playing the same song at the same time. We’ve always known that music brings people together — and now, we can see that togetherness in real time.

“There are so many ways we’re connected to each other, but sometimes we forget, or we just can’t see it,” said Serendipity creator McDonald. “In person, it’s easy to see the features we share, or when we share stories in online discussions. But we’re also connected in more ephemeral ways, and we can extract these relationships with new tools. Even though listening to music can be a very private experience, I wanted to see how often this experience is shared.”

“I’ve heard estimates that half a million people are in airplanes at any moment, forming a sort of city in the sky,” he continued. “Maybe Serendipity shows a similar sort of never-ending worldwide music festival. I hope that when people watch it they feel something that reminds them of listening to music with friends, and they think about what music can do to connect people.”

Serendipity’s beautiful depiction of musical synchronicity between music lovers all over the planet shows us, maybe, just a little, how shared our experience really is.

This is what it looks like when the world listens together.

Spotify’s Media Artist in Residence program is run on an informal basis, but we might do it again. Interested artists can find out more here.

 

 

 

Artists Can Sell T-Shirts, Experiences, and More on Spotify

Spotify and BandPage let artists sell merchandise directly to fans.

Music lovers, we know you often want to wear your favorite artist on your sleeve, and as of today, you can. Artists can now sell everything from band clothing to vinyl on Spotify, directly to their fans, thanks to our new partnership with BandPage.

Buying directly from artists on Spotify is another great way to support the people whose music fills your days. We’ve got amazing goodies from artists all over the world. To find them, simply head over to a participating artist’s page and see what they have to offer, in addition to the music you know and love.

Alongside physical merchandise, such as the beverage-insulating “koozie” and T-shirt offered by Miranda Lambert above, artists can sell their fans unique and potentially-wonderful offers in the form of ”experiences” — everything from private online concerts to real-world meet-and-greets, the chance to collaborate on a song, guitar lessons, and other non-traditional offers sometimes found on the likes of Kickstarter.

Spotify launched merchandise sales last year with TopSpin. Now, we’re taking things even further with BandPage, which helps over half a million artists make more money online. (Neither Spotify nor BandPage receives a cut of these merchandise sales.)

If you’re an artist who wants to start selling merch and experiences through Spotify, check out our artist blog.

Or, if you’re a music fan looking for some great physical items in addition to all the music you already love on Spotify, you know where to find them.

Connect to some good vibrations.

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We can’t get enough of Libratone’s quirky Scandinavian design and innovative approach to sound.

Their network speakers use acoustic-filtering organic wool to fill any room with good vibrations. And they now feature Spotify Connect. Which, of course, is music to our ears.

Feast your eyes on the Libratone Loop and Libratone Zipp. Look out for the update on Libratone’s iOS/Android app to upgrade the firmware and get one of these beauties playing all your favourite Spotify tunes.

 

Emotional Music

musicemotion

We know that there’s always that song that makes us smile, take us back to an exact moment, or bring us to tears… Music can have powerful effects on our emotions and with this in mind, we worked alongside Jacob Jolij, Professor in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Groningen, to reveal some of the songs that trigger the clearest emotional responses.

  1. Happiness – Katy Perry, Birthday

Happy songs are up-tempo, have strong rhythm, positive lyrics, and are typically in a major key. The up-tempo rhythm of Katy Perry’s Birthday will encourage active movement and dopamine release, which is good for your mood.

Furthermore some research suggests that the major key unconsciously reminds you of a falling pitch – a feature which in both human and animal vocalisations asserts dominance and confidence.

  1. Sadness – OneRepublic, I Need

Sad songs have the opposing features of happy songs: they are slower and in a minor key – with the lyrics generally more negative.

The minor key present in OneRepublic’s I Need unconsciously reminds the human mind of a rising pitch, which is associated with defeat and uncertainty.

  1. Optimism – American Authors, Best Day of My Life

Optimism is what psychologists call a complex emotion – it is not ‘built in’ our system by nature, but it is an emotion we learn to experience over time.

Optimistic feelings require happiness, so optimistic songs will share many features with happy songs: major key, upbeat. However lyrics – such as those in American Authors’ Best Day of My Life – are more important here as they provide the additional context to build optimism rather than purely improving mood.

  1. Anger – David Guetta, Bad

Anger is a basic emotion. It is negative, and as such associated with songs in a minor key. However, as opposed to sadness, anger is what we call an approach-emotion: it involves movement, a dimension anger shares with happiness.

Combine these two and you’ve got a recipe for songs that may help in channelling our angry feelings: up-tempo songs with a strong rhythm, in a minor key, such as David Guetta’s Bad.

  1. Overcoming fear – Coldplay, Magic

Fear is a negative emotion, characterised by a stress response that prepares you for a ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction.

In the modern age, we often experience the same stress responses in situations where the ‘fight or flight’ response isn’t beneficial – such as an interview or presentation. In order to overcome fear, the very first thing you need to do is to minimise your stress response, followed by managing your internal thoughts. Music that can help you to overcome fear therefore needs to be slow, relaxing, but have major chords to evoke positive feelings, and lyrics that deal with your negative thoughts, such as Coldplay’s Magic.

  1. Excitement – Avicii, Wake Me Up

The hormones present in the body when we are described as being ‘excited’ – such as adrenalin and endorphins – mean that excited people crave music that is positive, usually in a major key, yet more up-tempo and with a stronger beat than your typical ‘happy’ song.

And when you’re dancing with excitement to Avicii’s Wake Me Up, the lyrics in excited songs aren’t as important as they are to other moods such as anger or nostalgia.

  1. Nostalgia – John Legend, All of Me

John Legend’s All of Me is an example of a song destined to be a nostalgic hit.

For many the sentimental lyrics will remind them of somebody special, improving the probability of linking the song to other senses – such as sights or smells – meaning the iconic 2014 hit All of Me is a reliable track to provoke nostalgia in listeners for years to come.

Take a listen to the top seven emotion-inducing tracks here and check out more of our mood-focused playlists by surfing the ‘Genres and Moods’ section in the Browse feature.

 

For German Music Fans, World Cup Victory Was Cause for Celebration

Yesterday, Germany stunned World Cup host Brazil with a 7-1 victory, breaking records and Brazilian hearts. But for fans of the German side, which will now advance to the World Cup final, the result was cause for major celebration.

And celebrate they did.

As we did for two earlier matches, we looked at how many people were listening to music on Spotify in Brazil and Germany before, during, and after yesterday’s game. The number of listeners in both countries dipped during the action once again, as people tuned in to the big game.

In Germany, we see a big spike in listeners just after the game’s conclusion, representing some late-night celebrating, before listening declined again as the country went to bed.

Even in Brazil, some fans cranked up music on Spotify after the game, as you can see from the rising yellow line after the game ends. However, they listened a lot less than they did the previous night, and several hours passed before Brazilian listening returned to normal.

The following chart depicts hourly listening in both countries, from the day before the match to this morning:

Germany vs. Brazil: A study in listening patterns

See the red spike? That’s Germany celebrating its victory.

Keep in mind that, unlike in our last story about World Cup listening behavior, this one concerns countries in much different timezones, which helps explain why listening drops off in Germany faster than it did in the Netherlands or Sweden following their victories. (In Germany, the game ended at nearly midnight on a Tuesday night.)

It’s also worth noting that the chart shows hourly listening. So while it might appear that the Germans started celebrating before the game was even over, the spike actually shows how much they were listening about ten minutes after the game.

But the takeaway is clear: People in the country whose team won at the World Cup were more likely to listen to Spotify following their victory, while people in the losing country listened less than usual.

To celebrate with the Germans, give our post-game party playlist a listen. Or, to commiserate with the great futebol nation of Brazil after its uncharacteristic loss, try this one.

Update: We’ve also created a couple of new German genre playlists, for those looking to celebrate with some German techno or German metal.

Fill your evenings with music – Introducing Dinner and Sleep categories to Browse

DinnerAndSleep

We’ve been working hard on curating music for the moments that matter the most in your life. And the evening is one of those moments that is important and special to a lot of us. It’s the time of the day when we can unwind and spend time with the ones we care about the most. So today we’re launching two totally new categories – one dedicated to dinner time and another one to help you fall asleep.

For all those different, wonderful, noisy, life-changing nights.

Dinner can mean a lot of different things: it’s a three course meal with sparkling champagne, hot pancakes with ice cream or cold pizza on the couch in front of the TV. But food is not the whole experience – it is what you build around it that counts. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, dinner is certainly the least predictable. We want you to have the best possible dinnertime, whether you’re home alone with a sandwich, or out and about surrounded by all of your best friends.

As of today, you can find playlists for all kinds of dinners in Browse. You can host a Picnic in the Park, celebrate Taco Tuesday, or cook up The Perfect Italian Dinner. We have even Flaming Hot BBQ Classics, Breakbeat BBQ and Reggae BBQ playlists to choose from.

Everybody has to eat. So, why not invite your mom, your neighbour, or that hot new fling over to chew through the issues of the day while listening to music curated exactly for that moment? Even if you burn the sauce or overcook the potatoes, everything will taste a little bit better with great music.

The eight hours to save your life

We can fight it, crave it, miss it, or skip it, but, eventually, sleep can be the most rewarding gift in our daily lives. Such is its importance – and impact on us – that some scientists now argue that, since we are asleep for between a quarter and a third of our entire lives, our dreams themselves should be considered a very potent alternate reality.

With that in mind, we’re launching Sleep as a whole new category in Browse. Sleep is your new home for synapse-stroking, non-invasive, care-banishing, pillow-smoothing, muscle-relaxing playlists – the dream-ticket for those times when you need to turn it all off, relax, and float downstream. Sleep is the ultimate release from pressure, the ultimate retreat from the cares of the day. You’ve got eight hours to save your life – why not get started right now?

Head over to Browse on Spotify to find these two new categories. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have enjoyed creating them for you.

 

Artists to Watch

This year has already seen a lot of Spotify’s favorite Artists to Watch enter our charts and make the festival rounds. Here’s a round-up of exclusive, live sets from some of our sure bets — many of whom performed at SXSW for us this year as well as Coachella and Bonnaroo. Check out our Artists to Watch exclusive playlist here!

Scroll down to see exclusive photo sets of our Artists To Watch below.

 

Passenger’s Exclusive #SpotifySession + Video

Passenger recently visited Australian shores and, during that trip, hosted a pop up gig for fans on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. The performance was recorded, and we’ve turned that into an exclusive Spotify Session.

Soccer Fans Listen Differently in Winning and Losing Countries

Nearly half of the world’s population watched at least a minute of the last World Cup, according to FIFA (.pdf). At this year’s Brazilian extravaganza, we expect even more people to tune in, given that viewership increased 8 percent last time around.

But you don’t need to know that to understand the global impact of the World Cup — especially in the countries whose teams play that day — whose effect on these nations is so deep that it can be measured by how people listen to music in the hours following the victory or defeat of their team.

With over 40 million regular users and over 10 million subscribers in 57 countries, Spotify reaches many of these soccer (ahem, “football”) fans. To find out how their listening behavior differs based on whether their team wins or loses, we first looked at a World Cup qualifying match.

Our hypothesis: People in the winning countries would listen to happy party music, while people supporting the losing team might resort to less energetic music in order to cool off. However, our acoustic analysis of the top songs after both legs of the qualifying match between Sweden and Portugal in both of those countries actually didn’t show much of a difference in terms of the energy level of listening in those countries.

But we did find something else, which we didn’t actually set out to find. People in Portugal (the winning side) returned to Spotify after the match was over, presumably to celebrate with a post-game party.

Meanwhile, people in Sweden (the losing side) were less likely to listen to music after the match.

Sweden vs. Portugal

Sure enough, there it is: The blue line (Spotify listening in Sweden) continues to decline after the game, while Portuguese listening spiked hard in the hours following the game.

“On the usage graph, we can see both countries’ usage rates go down as the game starts,” said Spotify and The Echo Nest data alchemist Glenn McDonald. “After it ends a couple hours later, however, Sweden’s usage continues to go down, and Portugal’s leaps back up. The victors turn the music back on and celebrate, the losers go to bed!”

To see if the same thing happened during the Spain vs. Netherlands in the World Cup Group Stage, McDonald ran the same test on Friday’s match, a stunning 5-1 upset for the Dutch.

“Well, it’s not very dramatic, but there’s definitely a bigger rebound after the game for the Netherlands than for Spain,” said McDonald.

Spain vs. Netherlands

See that red line jumping up way more than the blue line? Although not quite as dramatically as in the Sweden vs. Portugal graph above, we once again see that when the match ended, the winning country’s music fans tended to fire up Spotify more than those in the losing country (although the Spanish, unlike the Swedes, did increase their listening slightly after their loss).

Our conclusion, so far: People are more likely to listen to music on Spotify after their team wins than after their team loses.

(Note: These graphs do not represent absolute numbers; in other words, they show the amount of listening in each country, relative to how much listening happens there.)

Say Hello to Our New Web API

New Web API

Developers, start your engines. We’ve launched a new version of the Spotify Web API that lets you put everything from album art to music previews into third-party web apps, with a brand new ability to create real Spotify playlists for your users.

Developers, marketers, ad agencies, music hacking gurus, product managers, design firms, and anyone else who wants to build a Spotify web app to further their goals now have a great new tool at their disposal, with more multimedia and baked-in smarts than ever before.

The new web API gives you the power to create powerful music apps on top of Spotify, except instead of founding the company and growing it for eight years, you get to jump right in and start building stuff on day one using our music and metadata, now with the ability to create playlists.

You also get the deep musical intelligence of The Echo Nest. We’ve been hard at work integrating the two APIs so that you can make awesome stuff like this. Your apps can build real Spotify playlists for your users, leveraging all of that Echo Nest data, and all without leaving the experience you’ve designed.

 New features include:

  • Rich Metadata. The new web API lets you retrieve extensive track, album and artist details from the Spotify catalog, including cover art and 30 second track previews.
  • User Profiles & Playlists. With a user’s permission, developers can now access user profile information including playlists, display name, image, country, email, external URL, and subscriber status. Web apps powered by this new API can also build new playlists for users to enjoy later, in their Spotify apps.
  • The Echo Nest: Integrated. We’ve been hard at work with new family members, The Echo Nest, to bring the two APIs together. The result: You can build your projects atop the world’s best music service and the world’s best discovery data.

For more information, click here