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Spotify as a Form of Social Media: The Importance of Monthly Playlists

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Teenagers worldwide connect through social media usage, and there is no end to the apps that allow them to share parts of themselves and engage with other people their age. Social media is primarily considered a place to share photos, videos and thoughts, and music is not typically included in the social media realm. However, Spotify, a popular music streaming platform, is a form of social media that is even more intimate and real than its competitors. 

On the right-hand side of the Spotify computer application, there is a “friend activity” bar where listeners can see what their friends are currently listening to. This is where the social media element comes into play. “Spotify stalking” is known by many as the process by which users essentially “stalk” people they like or dislike to see what they’re listening to. This is done in order to gain a better perception into their lives and also to find new music. When people make playlists on Spotify, they reflect their personalities differently than other social media platforms. Playlists are intimate and provide deep insight into the creator’s life, feelings and interests. Although there is an option to listen privately or hide playlists from the user’s profile, most people feel comfortable sharing their music, and sometimes even enjoy knowing others can listen to their tunes. 

I am a strong believer in the concept of monthly playlists. The first day of each month, my friends and I send each other our new playlists to share what music we’re currently listening to. Each playlist is customized with a caption, playlist cover and overall vibe of the music that encompasses the feeling of each month. 

The monthly playlist is a window into the mental state and inner psyche of each Spotify user. It is lighthearted yet deep and does not adhere to a specific ambiance like most playlists do. It is not a “pop playlist” or a “reading playlist” — it is for every moment, and the eclectic collection of songs attest to that. It is shuffleable, versatile and encapsulates the life of a music-listener, while also reflecting the month. For example, November might be dreamy and fall-like with lots of soft, pleasant songs that advocate hot coffee and sweaters and leaves falling off trees. 

Photo Provided by WNYC Studios

Monthly playlists also allow users to capture a memory within a song. If a song comes on while driving to the mall with your best friends, it would be wise to quickly add that song to your running monthly playlist. Each time it plays from now on, you will think of that moment in the car with your friends. This act of collecting memories is effective in romanticising the life you are living, shaping each day into the movie soundtrack to your life. 

In a similar vein, monthly Spotify playlists can function as a coded, non-verbal diary that allows you to recall these memories and events from months prior when looking back on them. What you were listening to in February might be different than your interests in October, and when you review previous playlists, you will feel a distinctly bittersweet feeling of what was that you may or may not remember fondly. These collections of songs document progress and change over time effortlessly. Music taste changes naturally, and playlists on a platform like Spotify do an excellent job depicting a growing person. 

Monthly playlists are like photo dumps, composed of mismatched emotions and experiences in a person’s life. With likes and follows, Spotify is a great place to make connections and document life like any other social media platform. 

Lillian Dunn is an Entertainment Contributing Writer for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at lbdunn@uci.edu.