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Spotify's 'Top Fan' Messages Are Confusing Some Listeners

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By Jennifer Passmore

During the past week, the popular music streaming service, Spotify has been sending some of its users messages about the artists that they tend to listen to. While some were excited to receive the messages, it certainly confused other ones. Depending on the artists that they listen to, an iteration of the messages went like this, "You are one of Taylor Swift’s top fans worldwide,” one iteration of this message said. “You’re one of their top 1% fans. Hit Play on their radio and we’ll provide an endless stream of their music."

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It Was Other Artists Too

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It wasn't just fans of Taylor Swift's music. It happened with other artists like Tove Lo, Kendrick Lamar, Barenaked Ladies, and The Doors. Not all listeners were in the top 1%, some were in the top 2 or 3 percent. A spokesperson for Spotify Peter Collins declined to release exactly how many users received the message, what it meant to be in the top percentile of listeners, or how the numbers were calculated. But he did specify that it was a "test."

User Data

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Collins did say, "At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience,” he said in a statement. “Some of those tests end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning. We aren’t going to comment on specific tests at this time." When we as users use platforms like Netflix and Spotify, it should come as no surprise that the companies use our information for things like Spotify's yearly wrap-up and marketing campaigns.

Some Were Keen

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Some users were excited to find out they were top fans. Take for example 22-year-old Regina Anderson of Washington, DC. She told the New York Times, "The way that they phrase it is a little weird,” she said. “It just seems odd. I guess one percent of Taylor Swift’s monthly listeners is 300,000 or something like that." While Kasey Carlson, also 22, said, "I thought it was kind of random given that it’s not the end of the year, it wasn’t part of a roundup, it was just like ‘oh hey by the way'"

Others Perplexed

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Some other Spotify listeners were rather perplexed by the messages that they received. Matt Moore, a 33-year-old software engineer hailing from New Jersey was told that he was one of Cake's top fans, which rather baffled him. He said, "I mean, I’m a moderate Cake fan, I wouldn’t say I’m in the one percent. I listen to Cake every now and then." He went on to say, "For the most part it makes me feel bad for Cake, If I’m their number one biggest fan, then it’s saying something."

What It Means

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Jeff Chester, who is the head of the nonprofit Center for Digital Democracy has stated that practices such as these are pretty common. He compared it to digital couponing, saying, "Just think about going into the supermarket and getting mobile coupons, All of that is tied together as part of the profiling process of you and you have no idea how it’s collected or what it means." So what about you? Have you been lucky to receive one of Spotify's newest messages?

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