Letter of Recommendation: Spotify Stalking

by on May 22, 2020

Posted in: friendship, Music, Virtual WRMC

Many of you know the joys of Spotify stalking first-hand. This is my personal take on the widespread (I think) social phenomenon.

I was quite resistant to Spotify, preferring to listen to iTunes and Youtube for far too long. Even, shamefully, Pandora radio. Once I finally made the plunge, I wanted to keep it private. In addition to the embarrassment of “changing my mind” I was also wary of connecting Spotify to Facebook and of following and being followed. Begrudgingly, I gradually started to dip my toes into the public forum of Spotify. I followed a couple of close friends here and there, followed @wrmc911 (of course). Little did I know, I would soon become obsessed by that right-hand column (for the non-spotify users, it shows what your Spotify friends are listening to). It felt like a true marker of friendship, a way to know a bit more about how someone’s day was going, despite not running into them or having time to call. A way to find new music (more on that later). A way to procrastinate by going way back on someone’s profile. A way to remind myself that my friends’ radio shows were starting. A way to avoid the awkward party question “what do you listen to”, because you can just find them on Spotify and see what they really listen to. I don’t see it as a space for passing judgement though, or for exposing “bad taste” but rather a vulnerable and honest chance to connect—not over the same music—but over the possibility of knowing each other more fully through music.

With that, I am proud to say I have become a full-fledged Spotify stalker. Pre-isolation and mid-isolation, I feel quite attached to the ability to know what someone is hearing right now. It feels almost transgressively intimate when you think about it for too long (as I have done writing this piece). But it also allows music, even in the midst of isolation, to still feel communal and exciting. Listening to new and “very wrmc” albums these past couple of months, while for sure enjoyable alone, was bittersweet. Seeing so many names pop up on my screen listening to the same album gives me a small taste of unintentional “communal” listening that feels uplifting.

But that’s not the whole point of this blog post. Spotify stalking gives me much more than mass alt music solidarity. Stalking gives me access to so much new music, both by seeing it appear under friend activity, and by going further in depth, both by “unknown” artists, and beloved ones. By “further in depth” I mean scrolling through people’s profiles and represents the true stalking here. In the spirit of investigative journalism, I am hyperlinking a Spotify playlist that I made but that I cannot take full credit for. I am a mere compiler of songs that I found and came to love through Spotify stalking.

Because Spotify doesn’t have notifications (another asset in my opinion), you probably don’t know who you are but thank you to those I follow on Spotify for listening to music so well! So broadly! So often! And especially, thank you to whoever is playing Marshmello constantly on the WRMC Spotify.

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