Serendipity Visualizes Simultaneous Listening Worldwide


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.