I beg you to make your Spotify listening stream public
You’re all alone, finally. Your roommate is gone for the weekend or your husband is shopping. Children, if they exist, are busy. It’s time to take a shower, fold the laundry or start cutting vegetables for dinner in peace. Alexa? Play as Whitney Houston. Play Kanye West. Play ABBA. For me, it’s The Killers, on repeat. For you, it could be Olivia Rodrigo’s new album. Or, a classic from DivorceCore, like Don Henley. You know what you’re blowing up when you’re home, privately, singing on the ironing board or dancing in front of the coffee table.
Now imagine I’m there too. Not really there. But I could be, in a way, if you could just pass your Spotify listening stream to the audience. Wouldn’t that be fun?
The internet is a place where we diligently select personas for ourselves, reflecting on our profiles in the hope that they will help us be seen in a specific way. We post photos to Instagram from our most flattering angles and deliver our tweets with precision and care, so that they are as crisp and witty or as jaded and distant. as we would like to be. Spotify is different. Of course you can do your public playlists as cool as you want, throwing all the NPR and Pitchfork approved cuts you can find. It doesn’t mean that you are actually streaming any of them. What I want is your listening. I’m talking about the live stream, right there on the right side of the Spotify desktop app that shows friends activity. This moduleThe main use of is for sharing music and exploring with friends I’m sure. But it also happens to be the only way to really know who a person is, organically and authentically, online.
It’s one thing to know about your friend’s recurring argument with their boyfriend, but even that feeds through the prism of their own perception of events. It’s something a lot more honest to know that they train exclusively at Black Sabbath. Paranoid. Whether they listened to the A star is born original soundtrack cover to be covered between 9am and 5pm every day of the week since 2019. That they really and really only listen to Nicki Minaj. Like, only Nicki Minaj. Never.
Watching someone listen on Spotify is about entering their deepest truth in real time. Such privacy simply does not exist on any other social media platform or website. I could argue that even real life rarely offers such moments of full knowledge. It’s a live broadcast of a person’s mood at that second even without any crafts. To put it simply: there is nowhere to hide when your listening is public.
So why would you do this? Expose yourself to your friend list, become the potential subject of their ridicule, and let your community know exactly where you are at (e.g., depressed enough to spend three straight hours listening to only Sufjan Stevens Illinois)?
First, because we want to know your heart. Your unpublished real self. Somewhere you want us to know that too. That you’re someone who listens to Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 album Emotion almost constantly. (In fact, It’s me.) What’s the point of pretending? No song or artist is embarrassing in itself, it is you which grafts them with the shame of “guilty pleasure”. Stop doing that. Go ahead and like what you like. I’m not ashamed of Carly Rae, and neither should you be.
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On a practical level, because the feature is not available on the mobile app, harassment on Spotify is mostly limited to working hours when we are all in front of our computer screens. No one spends their life watching you. They just switch to the app between emails on a random Tuesday to see how you’re doing. It’s good, clean and fun. If you take yourself too seriously to be honest about your musical tastes with your friends, you take yourself too seriously, period.
Plus, we already know you’re going to share your year-end review in December and tell us what you’ve spent the past 12 months listening to, anyway. (You know, the day Spotify dresses up its data on you cute, then asks you if you want to show it off to your friends, which, of course, you do.) Instagram is flooding Spotify with stats, and we’re all learning, again once, that Drake is the best male artist 20 years and older. Why not just share it all year round, I say?
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In the past 15 months, we couldn’t get together to share music. There was no singing with a crowd during a crowded live show. No euphoric dance parties in sweaty clubs with loud speakers. No listening sessions with vinyl soundtrack in friends’ lounges. Last May, the Friday when Lady Gaga Chromatic out, I was alone in my childhood room, in a different city than I wanted to be, while all the bars outside were closed. But I was still dancing. And seeing that sidebar fill up with other names streaming the same set from their own lock slots, it helped. So make your Spotify listening public. I’ll be there, in front of my laptop, to greet your raves in your living room, your concerts in the shower and your Nicki Minaj marathons.
I can’t promise I won’t take screenshots, though.
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