How Spotify Uses Emotional Surveillance for Profit

We all know Spotify’s curated mood-based playlists ranging from “Happy Hits” and “Mood Booster” to “Rage Beats” and “Life Sucks.” But what users may not know though, is that Spotify has been selling access to that listening data to multinational corporations.

Spotify is the world’s biggest streaming subscription service, with 207 million users in 79 different countries. And as Spotify has grown, its advertising machine has exploded. Of those 207 million users, it claims 111 million users are not paying subscribers, meaning they rely on the ad-supported version.

Spotify’s enormous access to mood-based data presents a major value to brands and advertisers, allowing them to target ads on Spotify by moods and emotions. And since 2016, Spotify has shared this mood data directly with the world’s biggest marketing and advertising firms. As of May 2015, advertisers were given the ability to target ads to users of the free ad-supported service based on activities and moods. For example, Coca-Cola’s ‘Open Happiness’ campaign would play when people are listening to mood-boosting music.

In Spotify’s world, listening data has become the oil that fuels a monetizable metrics machine, pumping the numbers that lure advertisers to the platform. In a data-driven listening environment, the commodity is no longer music, the commodity is user’s moods and listening habits as behavioral data. Today, marketers want mood-related data more than ever, to fuel automated, personalized ad targeting. In 2016, WPP struck a multi-year partnership with Spotify, giving the conglomerate unprecedented access to Spotify’s mood data specifically.

Why it’s hot: Music streaming platforms are in a unique position as they hold tons of data related to our emotional states, moods and feelings. As the largest streaming subscription service, Spotify and their mood playlists have become the data-collecting solution for brands struggling to reach skeptical millennials. On the Spotify for Brands blog, the streaming giant explains that its research shows millennials are weary of most social media and news platforms, feeling that these mediums affect them negatively. Spotify is a solution for brands, it explains, because it is a platform where people go to feel good.

Source: https://thebaffler.com/downstream/big-mood-machine-pelly