With more than 250 million Spotify users around the world, it’s not tough to imagine that two people may be listening to the same song at any given moment.
You hit play on Run the Jewels’ “Ohh La La.”
Who’s to say some dude in Germany didn’t just do that exact thing?
Spotify itself says that every second, more than 30,000 people are pressing play on the same song. Today, the platform is launching a new site called “Listening Together,” which visualizes these instances, showing us where these simultaneous listeners are, in real time.
“By sharing how we are listening and making it easy for others to see the songs others are streaming at the same time,” says Alexandra Tanguay, VP of global brand at Spotify, “we’ll not only surface the content recommendations we are all looking for [but] we’ll also establish a sense of connection and the togetherness that we all need right now.”
The concept started as an experiment in 2014, when a media artist, Kyle McDonald, had the idea of finding the “serendipity” of two listeners pressing play on the same song within milliseconds of each other.
On the “Listening Together” site is a map of the world that users can navigate by clicking, pulling, and dragging various points on the globe. As you move the map, locations with specific songs will pop up, then show exactly where—and how far away—that exact song is also being clicked. A point in São Paulo, Brazil, pops up with “Fluorescent Adolescent” by the Arctic Monkeys, while someone in Guadalajara, Mexico—about 4,890 miles away—lights up as well.
Tanguay says that the pandemic caused a significant and cultural shift that we’re continuing to try to understand, and the company recognized the need to rethink its approach to brand marketing as a result. “Nothing that we know is quite the same,” says Tanguay. “As a brand, we knew it would be tone-deaf to push forward without acknowledging this moment of crisis, recognizing how our listeners, creators, and the world are feeling, while bringing to the forefront what we can offer: content that can be either a welcomed distraction, a moment of self-care, or a valuable source of information.”