From Dusseldorf to Denver: Spotify Map Shows Moments of Musical Serendipity


While you're in Anywheresville, listening to Magic's "Rude" for the umpteenth time on Spotify, there's a possibility someone else in the whole wide world is jamming to the same chart-topping song at the same exact time... down to a fraction of a second. With over 40 million active Spotify users in 57 markets streaming songs all day and night, it happens more often than you think.

According to Spotify, every second of the day there are at least ten pairs of people who are in sync with the same song. Now thanks to Spotify's first artist in residence, interactive artist Kyle McDonald, people can actually see an example of those patterns of musical synchronicity with an animated map called Serendipity.

Based on real-time data, McDonald's creation depends on two users starting the same song on Spotify within a tenth of a second of each other in different locales across the globe. The interactive map spins around erratically every three seconds but can be paused. 

A quick glance revealed people in Chicago and Oudenaarde, Belgium cranking Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" and folks from California and New Zealand getting their "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People within milliseconds of each other. Each landing of the map is clickable and directs to that song's entry on Spotify.

Serendipity was built with the Spotify Web API, d3.js, and Storm.

"In person, it's easy to see the features we share, or when we share stories in online discussions," said McDonald, who has been Spotify's resident artist for two months. "But we're also connected in more ephemeral ways, and we can extract these relationships with new tools. Even though listening to music can be a very private experience, I wanted to see how often this experience is shared."

Along with Serendipity, which can be viewed here, Spotify formally announced the Media Artist in Residence program, where artists will be embedded with a team and collaborate on new ideas for music and technology. As well, Paul Lamere, a lead brain at Spotify's data subsidiary the Echo Nest, recently tweeted a similar utility that monitors radio listening around the world.