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How do you listen to music on Spotify?

Do you listen to albums? Or maybe you like curated playlists. Or sometimes you might just want to hear an artist, not a specific album, but just the list all the songs by an artist.

With the advent of streaming music, I thought the album had been severely diminished. Playlists have hundreds of songs, all curated together by regular people (or if you prefer, curated by Spotify).

Spotify has a great feature where you can see your friends’ listening activity.

Spotify friend activity with song source

Listed for each friend is his/her most recent song played. Included with each song is the song title, artist name, and the source of the song.

Where people find their music

The source of the song is what piques my interest. Sources have three types, each identified with their own icon.

Playlists are marked with a song note

Spotify playlist icon

Albums feature a circle that looks like either a record or CD

Spotify album icon

Artists have a person outline with a note

Spotify artist icon

This source feature is fascinating. I love seeing how people decide to listen to music. Rarely do people use the great “Discovered weekly” playlist that is curated for each listener.

Albums are the dominate source (not playlists)

Then today I was taken aback by how many people listen to their music via albums (instead of playlists or by artist). All these little circles were dominating the list. So I hand-counted:

  • 17 people listening via Album
  • 6 people listening via Artist
  • 5 people listening via Playlist

This behavior is quite surprising to me. More than TRIPLE the amount of people listen to albums instead of playlists. Wow.

Now this is a very small sample size. A mere 28 people. Maybe my friends skew older, so they prefer albums? I am 43 years old of the Generation X era, so I definitely grew up with albums.

(Side note: My albums were on CD. I was too young to have albums on vinyl. And I didn’t really buy albums on cassette tapes. That sort of behavior was weird, because you could borrow the album from the library or a friend, and then copy it onto your own cassette tape.)

Gen X’ers love their albums from vinyl and CD. Yay, albums! So that album listening behavior perhaps carries over to Spotify.

Why aren’t playlists more popular than albums with Generation X?

Gen X made mixtapes with cassettes. The mixtape is definitely a playlist. If we love mixtape playlists, wouldn’t we love Spotify playlists?

The thing is, we love specific mixtapes. And those specific mixtapes certainly are not on Spotify. 99.9999% of people have not manually made their old mixtape playlists from the 80s and 90s into playlists on Spotify. I haven’t even done this yet! (Although, I admit, from time to time I have thought about doing this manual conversion.)

The albums from the 80s and 90s are mostly likely on Spotify. And those albums are what people go to reach for on Spotify. Along with albums from the 00s and today. Thus, people love albums on Spotify.

Perhaps I’m in the minority of listeners on Spotify that enjoy playlists more than albums. In fact I have 44 public playlists on my profile, such as:

How do you listen to music on Spotify?

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