Spotify's 'Only You' celebrates and (profits off) your unique music taste.

With music, films, series and television on demand, it is hard to remember a time where you had to sit in front of your television at a specific time and tell everyone else in the house to shush, so you wouldn’t miss a single second of your favorite soap series. Real fans would even stand outside in a stranger’s garden, watching their favorite show through the window because they were too late to get home and sit in front of their television before the show started. Those were the days, right?

According to journalist Corinne van der Velden, we moved from this shared pop culture where we all watched and listened to the same media to a fragmented pop culture. Of course, there are still collective hypes and trends, like watching films and series via popular, contemporary streaming platforms. But like Van der Velden mentions, we don’t all watch the same films and series anymore: in this fragmented pop culture, we’ve simply got lots and lots of media content to choose from. The deluge of possibilities can create chaos: instead of choosing a CD from your small, personal collection, you now have access to over 70 million songs, 2.2 million podcasts, and 4 billion playlists on Spotify. Although we might depend on our friend’s tastes, film reviews, or influencers’ opinions to decide what kinds of media we want to consume, we still find ourselves in a pool of possibilities.

If it wasn’t for algorithms, though. All sorts of platforms are offering personalized content nowadays. Think of the ‘For You’ page on TikTok, which only shows you videos you like as the algorithm learns from every action its users take within the app. Spotify recently announced a new personalized feature with a similar name: ‘Only You’. This feature compares all the songs and artists you have saved, notes which ones are the most different from one another, and which combinations set you apart from other users. Spotify claims it’s done this by analyzing every user’s music tastes and picking out the songs or artists that you listen to together, but no one else does. You’ll also get a faux astrology reading and a page where you can find special playlists made just for you.

These personalized features are thus made possible by algorithms and by analyzing user’s data. Before the Internet and big data were created, our behavior remained analogue, and no trace was digitally archived. However, the ubiquitous role of new technologies has led to the transformation of every aspect of our behavior into information, taking us to become sets of data ourselves.

What will happen now with the constant data handover that is being determined more and more by artificial intelligence and algorithms? Stay up to date with IMPAKT’S web-project We Are Data to find out more about the complexities of dealing with data. 


Website by HOAX Amsterdam