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Spotify collects a ridiculous amount of data about its users and their listening habits

The streaming giant knows a lot about its users.

spotify logo blurred background
Image: KnowTechie

When we think of major platforms and websites collecting our data, names like Google and Facebook come to mind. Music streaming apps like Spotify tend to fly under the radar when it comes to collecting our data. But with its hundreds of millions of daily users, Spotify is collecting way more data than we may think.

Spotify operates with two main revenue streams: subscriptions and advertisements. The company boasts a cool 365 million user accounts, with around 165 million of those being subscribers who listen on the platform without ads. That leaves around 200 million people that the company monetizes through advertisements.

As we know, user data plays a huge part in selling advertisements. Platforms are able to build user profiles that advertisers can then utilize to help send ads to people who are more likely to respond. Spotify has become a pro in data collection and mining, all without being shone in a negative light.

So what data does Spotify collect from us?

spotify privacy settings
Image: KnowTechie

It is somewhat difficult to picture Spotify collecting data. With other platforms, like social sites, it makes a little more sense. You’re uploading images with location stamps and sharing posts from your favorite websites. Spotify’s data collection happens much more behind the scenes.

To start, the platform knows everything about your music history. Every time you play a song or skip to the next one, Spotify records that data. It’s how the platform is able to tailor its music experience to individuals, and it also helps the company with ads. An executive for the company said back in 2015 that it collects an “enormous amount of data on what people are listening to, where, and in what context. It really gives us insight into what these people are doing.”

Using this data, Spotify is able to infer certain aspects about a user that it can then use to its advantage. The platform can figure out what kind of mood you might be in or what you might be doing, all from the billions of data points that it collects from its users.

The data collection doesn’t stop there, however. Spotify also works with other platforms, and it is able to gather user data from those partners. If you log in with Facebook, for example, Spotify can, and will, import all of the data that it can from your Facebook account.

There’s also the information that you voluntarily give them. Account information, like email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, or anything else that you add to your account information is stored. And then, of course, there’s your payment information if you decide to subscribe.

There’s not much you can do about the tracking

There’s not really a whole lot that you can do about Spotify’s data gathering. You can listen in a Private Session that stops your followers from seeing what you are listening to, though Spotify likely still gathers that data. There’s also a “block cookies” function (shown above) in the Privacy section of the app. Any other privacy measures must be done through the website under your Account Privacy Settings. Here’s a quick guide on how to do that.

You can turn off tailored ads and Facebook data from that menu, but that isn’t stopping Spotify from collecting whatever it can. Spotify needs user data to be able to operate its business model. For that reason, the only way to truly stop Spotify from collecting your data is to delete your account.

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Staff writer at KnowTechie. Alex has two years of experience covering all things technology, from video games to electric cars. He's a gamer at heart, with a passion for first-person shooters and expansive RPGs. Shoot him an email at alex@knowtechie.com

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