How can someone know my music listening habits?

30 May 2019

How could someone, like a marketer, know what music you are listening to? How would they know you like Kidz Bop or Van Halen?

The Recording Industry Association of America recently released a report that showed that 75% of the music industry’s revenue comes from online streaming services.

Even the other revenue stream demonstrate the trend of how we consumer music…we have all been moving towards digital. Where are all the sales of physical media?

However, with this move to streaming and digital downloads comes all of the capabilities of the Internet, including tracking down individual purchases or preferences for music & Internet radio stations. Revenue that comes from us, such as in the case of a purchase of a song, is only part of the revenue. Furthermore, some services are free to consumers and supplement that with other revenue such as selling the data or targeting ads to consumers based on their music listening habits.

Recently, a lawsuit (Wheaton v Apple Inc) brought against Apple alleges they are selling your music-listening habits from iTunes. Furthermore, according to another lawsuit that alleges Bose, which sells popular wireless headphones (and that utilize a companion app), alleges that Bose is also selling listening habits such as what music or podcasts you listen to. If true, this demonstrates that the sale of listening habits extends beyond your phone/laptop and onto devices such as headphones (even if you already paid $300 for those headphones)…one day, someone might allege the same of these AI voice assistants such as Google Home or Amazon’s Echo.

It remains to see how much of this true and how much of it isn’t but if you’re wondering how someone knew what you were listening to, for now, you can look at your devices that are utilizing your online accounts for services such as Spotify, Pandora, You just might be surprised that your data and listening history is online for the world to see! (Example).

Or you might have even published that to your twitter feed.

Or you might have even posted your preferences on social media.

Some people don’t mind sharing this info and being tracked or targeted…but for those of us that do, just be aware of how and when you are sharing this information. In some cases, you might have agreed to an integration where this information will be shared automatically.