Please, Share Your Niche Playlists
Every 5 minutes, some college student somewhere shoves their AirPods into their eardrums and pen an all lowercase, building an indie-inspired Edgar Allen Poe-Esque quote title into their Spotify app. Underneath the narrative, lies a set of songs that to the naked eye may not appear to mean anything to anyone outside of the creator.
But to the creator, hours of overthinking that last text to an ex-lover, grueling over poorly worded discussions with their mother who only seems to pull away or replaying that memory of clear realization that pulls them into a niche part of their brain they’d never discussed with anyone outside of their own head had been poured into the unique mixture of songs they’ve collected to build a cohesive narrative.
Ten seconds later, this curator shares a list of five songs in a quick 6-second video on their TikTok, and a cohort of scavenging songstresses are headed to their phones to follow this new collection that just seems to scratch the itch that we may need. The playlist filled to the brim with a mixture of Hyperpop, Midwest Emo or Soft Alt-Rock now has over 19k followers and an ever-growing list of suggestions in the comments.
If you would have asked me about this concept 2019, I would have said that many people react to this as a way sheerly out of their admiration for music and exploration. I still think that this aspect is true. However, I feel like this situation has also shifted gears for more of a bittersweet connection when you think about it in the context of the year of the pandemic. Many people have been stuck in their homes, some completely alone, for months on end. Many people have had excess energy to spend on learning about themselves and others around them through the internet.
TikTok and other social media time spent on app levels have skyrocketed over the course of the past year, and with it came a surge in new music discovery. According to Spotify’s year-end report, the company experienced a 27% increase yOy jump in active listeners and a 27% increase in active subscribers. Back on TikTok, 150+ songs surpassed 1 billion views when cut into bite-size pieces for sound purposes on creators’ videos, and five of the highest performing songs made it to the top five on the Billboard charts. It’s obvious that many people drifted toward creative outlets in times of chaos, and that trending apps like TikTok are only escalating the usage of music during 2020. This has even led Spotify to include a section just for viral hits that are big on the internet.
It’s clear that sharing music across platforms is impacting the way that these songs and albums are views in the greater music landscape during a rough year. However, I feel like there is an important part of this discussion that we are missing.
TikTok videos with over 100k likes about playlists with several comments about how perfect it is are a testament to the impact that sharing and curating individual playlists can have. Our need to share, to understand each other has increased, even if it is across the screen. Especially when it pulls in the context of old television shows that we all collectively experienced, or encapsulate a feeling that may be all too familiar to several listeners.
Under these videos you can see hundreds of comments applauding the playlist creator, suggesting songs to add, and tagging their friends to alert them to a playlist that may just be the perfect fit for that person. Through this small exchange that may not even require more than an hour of prep work, connections were made and emotions were evoked that prompted the listener to deem this playlist “perfect.”
Although some may think that taking hours to build a small playlist filled with songs that you enjoy may feel like a waste of time, it’s clear that hundreds of thousands of people may disagree. We should applaud the time we spend crafting lists of songs to share into the open, because it may be something that makes someone else’s day even just a bit better. These stories that we’ve made, these playlists that we create can have meaning outside of our own experiences. We should be proud of the innovation that we’ve started to cultivate in times of distress. Sharing Spotify playlists on other social media platforms is only going to increase, and is already being mimicked by small indie studios as well as household names.
All this being said, I encourage all of my fellow music lovers to continue to create niche playlists and construct collections of their favorite tunes. Not only are you going to make something that will genuinely bring you joy, but you never know who else may need to hear the message you’re trying to send to yourself, and how it may help them get through the day as well.
Follow me on Spotify ;)