Music Business

What drives the 1.9B music discoveries that happen on Spotify every day?

Listeners “discover” a track for the first time 1.9 billion times every day on Spotify, and usually, that song has been identified as one they might like.

Who is doing all of this music discovery, and what does their post-discovery journey look like?

Spotify defines discovery as the first time a user hears a track, and the joy that follows is baked into our DNA.

“As humans, we are wired to explore, to seek the new and the unexpected, and to learn and expand and deepen our understanding of the world,” said Dr. Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Greater Good Science Center. “This quest for discovery is one of our greatest species-defining strengths.”

Gen Z and Gen Alpha

Boomers discover music more often than Gen Z in the US. But globally, Gen Z and Gen Alpha take the lead. 

“Today, young people face many challenges,” said Keltner. “The science of music speaks to how deeply listening and discovering music can counter this for young people. There’s the awe of finding something new; how music can lead young people to feel calmer, both in mind and body; and how music surfaces what we most care about in life.”

Gen Z is also discovering classic songs.

Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are still interested in discovering new music, and Keltner thinks it’s because they feel more lonely and stressed: “…discovering new music can bring us a sense of connection and contentment rather than stress, a sense of identity within a community, and awe and curiosity.”

We don’t like Mondays

Many factors drive music discovery, including cultural moments driven by social media, television shows, movies, and video games. 

But one day of the week is a recurring shared moment.

Spotify’s researchers found that people tend to stream happier music (measured by the average valence of music streamed, which describes the musical “positiveness” conveyed by a track) on Mondays than the rest of the week.

“We listen to music for many reasons: to find peace and contentment, insights into the struggles of life, inspiration, and a sense of identity,” continued Keltner. “Mondays often present challenges as we move from the weekend to the work week: stress, questions about what will inspire us that week, and why we are doing the work we are doing. Music on Mondays provides windows into answers to these aspects of shifting to Monday.”

Mondays are also when Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist is released.

More on the study here.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a Berklee College Of Music professor.

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