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New Spotify project links users listening to same song, on global map

Posted at 2:20 PM, Aug 21, 2014

Houston, Texas is a long way from the town of Välberg, Sweden on a map—but not according to music listening habits.

Sure, over 5,000 miles separate the two locations but a look at Spotify’s newest project, Serendipity, shows two like-minded music fans pushed play on the same song, at the same second recently. Small world, huh?

Created as part of Spotify’s Media Artist in Residence program, Serendipity is a project that shows when two Spotify users listen to the same song at once, no matter where they may be. Click here to see the project in action, as it shows the shared song and locations of the two anonymous users on an animated map.

To be counted, the users had to click the songs within a tenth of a second of each other, according to Spotify.


“Although they might not speak the same languages, live in the same climates or believe the same things, they’re playing the same song at the same time,” a blog post from Spotify writer Eliot Van Buskirk explained today.

But don’t expect to be able to log into Serendipity and check who’s listening to the same tunes as you. Spotify explained the new feature as more an art project than an interactive program. “It’s a mesmerizing piece of art,” Van Buskirk wrote. “It’s also true to life, based on real-time data.”

It’s fitting to call Serendipity a piece of art, as it was created by interactive artist Kyle McDonald. McDonald is Spotify’s first Media Artist in Residence and his own website describes him as “an artist who works in the open with code.”

A quick spin through Serendipity showed Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” being spun by users in both Cupertino and Moss Landing, California. Internationally, listeners of “Maps” by Maroon 5 were linked in Madrid, Spain and Leipzig, Germany. And showing country music’s reach to the northern United States, “Drunk on a Plane” by Dierks Bentley was clicked in San Antonio, Texas and Closter, New Jersey at the same instant.

Spotify’s Artist in Residence program runs on an “informal basis,” according to the company. Its aim is to develop new features that “inspire new thinking around the Spotify product,” Van Buskirk wrote.

Follow this writer on Twitter @MrClintDavis.