If you type “corona…” into Spotify’s search box, you’ll see dozens of playlists created for the quarantine. There are songs on them jokingly referring to the circumstances, such as “In the Air Tonight” (1980), “Isolation” (1980) or “It’s the end of the world as we know it”. That last track, recorded back in 1987, has perhaps unsurprisingly found itself back in the charts recently .
These songs, however, are not found in the daily list of the 200 most popular songs on Spotify . And the Top 200 is the only data that the streaming giant shares with us. However, they can help us find answers to the question that concerns us.
In a crisis, we seek information
If we take a look at the data from Italy, which has so far suffered the most from the epidemic in Europe. The graph shows the number of song plays on the Top 200 list in Italy from the beginning of February 2019 to 30 March 2020. It clearly shows the number of plays changing regularly. Visible peaks appear every seven days, these are the weekends. Most plays appear on Fridays and Saturdays, when people are most likely to party, while on Sundays there are rapid drops. There are also seasonal fluctuations: in Italy, summer sees a considerable increase in the play count. A sharp increase in the number of plays can also be caused by a showy premiere. In Italy, this happened following the release of an album by the rapper Supreme, which took place on 15 November.
The chart also shows a decrease in the number of plays after the weekend starting on Friday, 6 March. That Monday, 9 March, was when Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the whole country was going into quarantine. The epidemic gained momentum and we can only assume that the Italians locked in their homes were glued to what was going on in the news.
How can you explain the changes in user behaviour? Ewa Góralska from MullenLowe Mediahub believes that changes in user behaviour were related to fear. In the face of a threat, people look for information rather than entertainment, because it increases their feeling of control. It is also possible that the younger users may turn to YouTube or Netflix, as well as video games.
This is no time to party
The Top 200 list does not allow any definitive conclusions to be drawn about the number of plays on the service. The average age of the Spotify listener may vary from country to country. In Poland, the service attracts a relatively young audience, and many of the Top 200 artists might not be recognised by the average listener over 30 years old. This means that a change in the