Spotify sleuths sneaker-springing songs

Do you pop your headphones in when you go for a walk? 

Apparently this is what you’re listening to, according to Spotify sneakily scanning and analyzing and tracking everything you’re picking all the time, at every opportunity, every time the app is opened (and maybe even after). 

As reviewed and crunched by Wynsors World of Shoes, based on more than 3,000 songs from Spotify playlists that each have more than 206,000 monthly listeners around the world, the most popular songs for walking are by Empire of the Sun, Tame Impala and MGMT. 

People were most likely to walk to music categorized as alternative/indie, followed by electropop and EDM, with the ideal BPM for walking clocking in between 125 and 140 beats per minute. A sample playlist can be found here.

It’s probably not surprising that Google searches for “walks near me” increased a TON last year, going up 190% between March ‘19 and February ‘20 and the same period a year later — with gyms closed or restricted and nothing else to do thanks to COVID, more people took advantage of the free and easy long walk alternative. 

But there’s quite a big difference between what individual, autonomous, living and breathing people decided they wanted to listen to on their playlists and what the app that tracks your every choice and song decided people had to listen to on a playlist.

Human-created playlists, for example, preferred alternative/indie music (45% of songs selected), followed by neo-folk (13%) and EDM (9%). When Spotify was running the show, it showed no regard for what people actually wanted and, instead, shoved electropop into people’s ears (26%), followed by reggae (19%), hip-hop/rap (13%) and EDM (9%). 

“Your music choices may help you as a distraction tool from hill climbs you may experience, where the legs burn just a little more and you feel slightly breathless, or it can act as a powerful motivator for you to increase your walking intensity and push through,” says Juggy Sidhu, founder of the Lean Indian Academy. 

What do you think? Do you prefer to pick your own songs or do you trust the Spotify algorithm more than your own judgment — knowing that it will ignore what you want and make you listen to something else anyway? 

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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