Hundreds of millions of people use Spotify on their phones, tablets, and desktops every day—most people stay logged in as they move from one device to another. As each track is played, playlists are created, and podcasts are listened to, we will provide more information to Spotify’s big data machine. More than 100 billion data points are created every day.
Each one provides Spotify with more information about our lives. “Spotify has a lot of data about us,” said Bryan Barletta, author of Sounds Profitable, a newsletter about audio and podcast advertising. “We have always known that what you listen to, how you listen, and the activities around listening are some of the most intimate things we do. They do some very smart things with audio.”
Spotify knows the value of this data and uses it to help drive its advertising sales. “These real-time, personal insights go beyond demographics and device IDs themselves, and can reveal the emotions, mindsets, tastes and behaviors of our audiences,” Spotify’s advertising material Say. Among Spotify’s 365 million monthly users, 165 million subscribe to not listen to ads. The other 200 million people endured them. So how much does Spotify know, and how does it limit its data collection?
What Spotify knows about you
Everything you do in Spotify’s web player and desktop and mobile applications will be tracked. Every click, song start, playlist listening, search, shuffle and pause will be recorded. Spotify knows that you start playing Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” at 23:03, listen to it for a minute, then search for “break up”, after listening to “ANGRY BREAKUP PLAYLIST” for 4 hours and 52 minutes without any pause.
All of this behavioral data can be mined by Spotify-and it can have profound implications.As early as 2015, Spotify had only 15 million paying users, one executive Say It collects “a lot of data about what people are listening to, where they are listening, and under what circumstances. This really gives us insight into what these people are doing.”
The music you listen to reflects how you feel, who you are with, and what you are doing. In order to take full advantage of this, Spotify has invested heavily in data science and even used people’s listening habits in its ads. “I have heard 5,376 Hamilton soundtracks this year in the theater district, dear ones, can you buy us tickets?” Read an ad Since 2017.
For companies that want to target people through compelling advertising, this granularity can be profitable. Based on your behavior, Spotify will come up with “inferences” designed to reflect your interests and preferences. “The interesting thing is that data from paying users who don’t listen to podcasts may never hear ads in Spotify, but they power the logic engine,” Barletta said. “They are the control group.”