Emotional Music

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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.

 

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

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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.)

The Music of Cannes Lions

It all starts with a song. Music inspires and ignites creativity in us all.  This year, Spotify will be at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity celebrating the best creative work of the year in advertising.  While we are there, we will be conducting a Social Music Experiment to discover the songs that inspire and connect the world’s greatest storytellers. We will be asking the good people at Cannes one simple question, “what song inspires you?”  And we’ll be sharing the results with the entire community.

Many of Cannes’ highest profile speakers have already shared their most inspiring tracks, which include:

If you are attending Cannes Lions, and want to contribute, visit us on your mobile phone at spotify.com/cannes. After you share the track that inspires you, we’ll also give you a personalized playlist based on your shared track with the help of our good friends at The Echo Nest – and then allow you to find your Cannes’ musical connections.

We’ll also bring your musical connections to life. Each evening at Le Palais, we will be visualizing the “music network of Cannes” in a nightly “digital fireworks” display. If you’re attending, you should stop by as it’ll be quite a show!

If  you are not attending and want to follow the Cannes’ music conversation, check out spotify.com/cannes. You can also follow @Spotifyads on Twitter to stay connected.
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10 million subscribers!

Today we are thrilled to announce a special milestone – we now have 10 million paying subscribers and more than 40 million active users across 56 markets! Wow — we’re incredibly grateful to the thousands of artists and millions of music fans around the world who have helped us reach this point. To celebrate, we thought we’d put together a fun infographic for you!

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What a trip! Thank you for building, growing, and listening with us.

 

 

 

The best of the Wurst: Eurovision winner Conchita’s daily streams shoot up 400 percent

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Go Conchita!

Conchita Wurst‘s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 has made her an overnight star across Europe – and she has now similar levels of success for her music on Spotify.
 
Since her winning performance at Eurovision, fans have listened to her music more than a million times on Spotify.
 
If you are a Conchita Wurst fan, you can not only find her official profile on Spotify, but also delve into her personal music collection, which includes a number of playlists including La Musica ConchitaDIVA and Disney (a playlist of her favourite Disney tracks). 

The Pixies – like you’ve never seen them before!

During the height of 2013’s blizzard season, the Pixies treated us to a rare, in-studio acoustic performance at Water Music in Hoboken, NJ. Their gig for the night cancelled, they delved into a selection of new tracks and classics. Here’s “Silver Snail,” one of the highlight’s of their just-released new album “Indie Cindy”.

Stream the full album here and Follow the band to be the first to hear their acoustic Spotify Session, coming soon.

Spotify Landmark: Nas’ Illmatic

Spotify Landmark – our series documenting music’s greatest moments in the words of those who made them – is back. This time around, we bring you the ‘aural history’ of Nas’ Illmatic – considered by many to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. On the occasion of the album’s 20th anniversary reissue, Queens, NY native Nas, his producers and his A&R executive recount the making of this timeless gem.

Uncover the story behind this iconic album with Spotify Landmark here!