From Spotify’s updated Terms & Conditions (effective August 19th), which you probably didn’t read…
I. You’re now being tracked even when you’re not on Spotify, often through Spotify ‘business partners’.
II. In addition, Spotify is now even tracking your friends’ profiles.
III. Under the new terms, Spotify is not obligated to follow the privacy laws of your country.
IV. If your data does happen to be breached, that’s your problem.
Nearly 400 million people use Spotify to listen to their favorite music and podcasts. Those people have Spotify installed on numerous devices, each logged in to their accounts. Every time you listen to music, create a new playlist, or search for a podcast – Spotify is tracking you.
“Spotify has a crazy amount of data about us,” Says Bryan Barletta, author of Sounds Profitable, a newsletter about audio and podcast advertising. Every single thing you do in Spotify’s web player and its apps is tracked. Every tap, song start, playlist listen, shuffle, pause, or skipped song is noted.
Spotify knows when you go for your daily run because you tap into your ‘Endurance Playlist’ every morning around 6:30 am. The music streaming giant also knows when you’re having your morning coffee as your phone connects to the Starbucks WiFi down the street, and you pause “Eye of the Tiger” to give the barista your order.
Spotify is even cheeky about its data harvesting in its advertising. “Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton soundtrack 5,367 times this year – can you get us tickets?” asks one Spotify ad from 2017. That type of granularity gives advertisers who want to reach Spotify’s 200 million free members very valuable insight.
How Spotify Collects Data
The very act of having Spotify installed on your phone and logged in is enough to generate tons of data points to help Spotify in its tracking of your life. When you sign up you create a username and share your email, phone number, date of birth, gender, street address, and country. If you pay for Spotify Premium, you also share your credit card information.
Can You Stop Spotify from Tracking You?
Did you know there’s a way to listen to Spotify without broadcasting it to all of your followers? You can start a private listening session, but it must be done each time you open the app. You can turn on private listening on Spotify by tapping Home, Settings, scroll to Social, and toggle ‘Private Session.’
This mode stops people who follow you from seeing what you’re listening to, but it doesn’t stop Spotify from collecting data about your listening habits.