June 12, 2019

Spotify turns our emotions into data, and then profits off of them

Spotify uses emotional surveillance tactics to sell data, and brands are cashing in.

Spotify users all know the platform’s mood playlists. If you’re feeling good, go with “Happy Hits.” If you emerge from the wrong side of the bed, try “Mood Booster” to flip your frown. And of course, “Life Sucks” for those who read we’re all going to die in 2050.

But what you probably didn’t know is that Spotify compresses your emotions behind those playlists into data. And, as The Baffler reports, the music streaming giant has been selling your emo’ data to multinational corporations since 2016.

It’s called ‘emotional surveillance,’ and we’re feeling it

In 2014, Spotify acquired the “music intelligence” firm Echo Nest. Together the 2 companies went deep on the 1.5B user-generated playlists at Spotify’s disposal to better understand the way listening happens on its platform.

Shocker: They found that listeners curate their playlists daily to moments and emotions going on in their present lives, and started selling corporations all the feeels.

4 years later, Spotify is a VIP to brands and advertisers

Very Important Platform that is… And the biggest asset to Spotify’s emotional surveillance is today’s culture. 

In other words, Spotify’s mood collector in sheep’s clothing has become the antidote for brands struggling to reach skeptical millennials through negative social media and news platforms.

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