Artist Shows How Often Spotify Listeners Are Playing Same Tune


Digital life gives us free, streaming music, but it sounds like audio isolation. Just today, I witnessed a young gentleman attempting to exit the bus unsuccessfully while listening to music with headphones. He didn’t hear the driver telling him to step down onto the steps in order to open the door. Instead, he made his way to the front of the bus and walked off in a cloud of frustration. Perhaps he had his own drummer?

This phenomena — of private music listening, especially in the presence of humans — can be particularly alienating. Where are all of the opportunities for audio serendipity? Online, of course!

Surprisingly, every second there are at least 10 pairs of people who start listening to the same song within a tenth of a second of each other. These connections can cross time zones, borders and oceans. Other times it’s two people in the same city, unaware of each other. If you’re listening to a popular song, there’s a good chance someone else is listening to it in sync with you.

For Kyle McDonald, Serendipity represents a missing piece of the digital musical experience. McDonald asked what the chances are that two Spotify users are listening to the same sound at the same time. If you map that out, you’ll have this project from Spotify’s inaugural artist-in-residency program. “Every second a few people hit ‘play’ on the same track at the same time.” If you go to Spotify HQ, you can see a live version of the map, but for now, this public site documents and shows those moments as cached data from August 20.

McDonald is no stranger to digital arts, he is “a member of F.A.T. Lab, community manager for openFrameworks, adjunct professor at ITP and has been a resident at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon, as well as YCAM in Japan.”

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