Friend Feeds and Public Playlists: Making Music Social

By Isabella Mojares ’20

Listening to music can be a pretty personal thing. The songs we choose to listen to become the soundtrack to our everyday lives, the catalyst for our Friday night shenanigans, the ambient noise to our late-night cram sessions. Music makes moments and brings people together, inevitably linking itself to our emotions and our mood, becoming the lyrical ~windows into our Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 11.00.22 AM.pngsouls~.

But what happens when the act of listening to music extends beyond our own ears? In this age of social media and the growing “need” to share everything we’re up to, music streaming platforms, like Spotify and Soundcloud, have given us the option to do just that – share what we’re listening to. Just as easily as we can open up Instagram to see the photo a hallmate posted over the weekend, we can log onto Spotify and see what a friend from back home is currently playing. 

If we agree that our choice in music is, in fact, somewhat of a personal choice, then why even put it out there for others to see? Sharing what we’re listening to is a fun way of keeping in touch with friends, and even a way to expand our tastes in music. Unlike other forms of social media, it’s not a highlight reel of our lives that gets displayed. Because Spotify’s Friend Feed isn’t 100% accurate at updating in real time, you have no idea if it’s a song from the “hip” artist you’re just getting into that’s popping up, or the ironic throwback you just jammed to with your roommates.

Even more personal, perhaps, is the fact that we can publicize our playlists, should we choose to do so. Playlists are versatile things – they can be fun, they can be playful, they can be serious, they can be emotional. In a way, a playlist can be like a diary. Is it weird that they’re out there? Is it weird that I can go through yours and you can go through mine?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think Friend Feeds and seeing other people’s playlists can be fun. I’ve smiled at unintentionally “twinning” with a friend, seeing that we just so happen to be listening to the same artist at the same time. I’ve silently wondered can he see it?! when playing a song that a cute guy and I both happen to have on our respective “jams!” playlists. I’ve been inspired to listen to a new artist after seeing that a friend has been listening to them a lot lately. I’ve felt proud, seeing that my cousin actually did check out the band I told him about.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if I was playing from his playlist when a song came on. “No, I’m playing from mine,” I responded, feeling half-awkward that he realized I had added a song from his playlist onto mine. Maybe it’s flattering, maybe it’s creepy – I don’t really know. Either way, I’m still going to keep an eye out for my Friend Feed.

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