Spotify Has a Genre Called “Escape Room.” What the Hell is That?

If you’re a Spotify user, you might have received your annual email that provides all sorts of statistics on what music you streamed throughout the year, how many different artists you listened to and how many minutes you spent online with your music. It’s a cool snapshot of your listening behavior.

Mine, for example, told me that my top genre was “alternative” (quelle supris!) followed by psychedelic, indietronica and indie R&B. But several people have told me that Spotify has declared “Escape Room” to be their big genre. What the hell is that?

Turns out that a number of people are confused about the term, too. Cherie Hu at a site called Festival Peak was one of them. What follows is some interesting insight into what Spotify makes of what we do when we stream music through it.

What makes reliving one’s year in music so appealing and enjoyable? In 2016—and in every other year—it’s all about the weirdness.

Every December, Spotify publishes a data-driven annual recap of individual and collective listening trends called the Year in Music. For 2016, the streaming service decided to take a slightly more subdued approach, opting for a one-off email campaign and a collection of playlists on the service as opposed to the colorful, standalone websites that we saw in 2014 and 2015.

If you listen to a wide-enough range of music on Spotify, some pretty bizarre genres can emerge in your year-end roundups. For instance, one of my top genres in 2015 was “dreamo,” an obscure combination of “dreamy” and “emo” that only came up on my list because I binge-listened to MUTEMATH’s discography (and no other dreamo artist) that year.

This year proved to be even stranger. Spotify’s delivery to my inbox yesterday afternoon revealed my top five genres of 2016: Indie R&B, Deep Indie R&B, Indietronica, Indie Rock, and…

Escape Room?

The first thought that came to mind when I read that email: Escape Room is not a genre. I grew up playing tons of lo-fi, point-and-click escape-the-room adventure games online, so the term “escape room” carries a rather specific cultural significance to me that is completely unrelated to music.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Spotify Has a Genre Called “Escape Room.” What the Hell is That?

  • December 15, 2017 at 11:08 am

    I’ve got a nice one this year: Fluxwork! Pretty good name for a genre, except it doesn’t exist!

    • December 19, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Got fluxwork too, i think it’s related to liquid sounds and sound engineering music (visible cloaks, motion graphics)


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