Headphones - image by Alvimann

Spotify plans to recommend tracks based on your mood

It was recently reported that Spotify are considering using pulse and temperature sensors to tailor music to suit the listener’s mood. But with the wealth of music discovery apps and services out there, do we really need another?

Before you get too excited, it’s only a concept at the moment, and the thinking is that sensors will keep track of the listener’s heart rate, body temperature, and movement to suggest songs that match mood and activity. Lying on the beach would trigger relaxing songs, and heavy exercise would bring up something more upbeat. It’s a nice idea, but, although Enya might be appropriate whilst I’m mastering the most epic of splits, I really don’t want to hear her when I take a lunch break in the park. Hearing Eye Of The Tiger at the start of my run might be great the first time (and make me feel like Sly Stallone for four minutes), I’d get sick of it pretty quickly.

There are of course many unanswered questions

Would the generated tracks take into account your current listening preferences, thereby avoiding Enya-gate? Presumably. Would Spotify remember what tracks it played me on yesterday’s run, so it could give me some variety today? Hopefully. Will this work in conjunction with devices like Nissan’s biometric smartwatch for drivers or will Spotify be releasing their own wearable tech? Probably neither. The listener’s physiological data will likely be measured via their smartphone.

Recommended songs generated would be a cut above those suggested by apps like Last.fm or Filtr, since they’d be based on real-time data rather than just past listening preferences. However, one could argue that there’d be little point generating a playlist based on your heart rate, since it may not fit your mood next time.

So what opportunities does this present for marketers?

What if the music playing at a product launch event was controlled by the mood of the room? Could brands from Adidas to Durex provide tailored playlists for your session (exercise or otherwise), and use your activity level to determine the upcoming track? Could Volvo create road trip playlists based on your speed and location? Or could Tabasco bring out a new sauce that’s so hot it gets your temperature all the way up to “Sandstorm” by Darude?

Finally, there’s potential for advertisers on Spotify to receive stats on changes in listener heart rate and temperature during their adverts. Wouldn’t it be nice to see data on how those variables changed as the same person hears the same ad again and again, over a given time period? Maybe, but given how basic the monitoring technology would be at launch, maybe not. How would Spotify know if my heart rate increased because I hate the ad I’m hearing, or because I’ve just missed my train? Answer: it wouldn’t.

We’re not sure how this will play out yet, but watch this space.