Bank of England studies Spotify habits to gauge consumer mood

Spotify's playlists can untap mood

The Bank of England (BoE) is gauging the mood of the country by keeping an eye on their Spotify listening habits.

The BoE’s chief economist Andy Haldane has said that Spotify’s data, paired with new analytic techniques is being used by its researchers as an indicator of people’s mindset.

Spotify has been using listening habits, particularly its bespoke playlists, to understand user moods to inform its advertisers as well as its own marketing campaigns. But the use by the bank has shown the possibility that third parties could look at the consumption of media as a means of understanding a populace.

Haldane said: “To give one recent example, data on music downloads from Spotify has been used, in tandem with semantic search techniques applied to the words of songs, to provide an indicator of people's sentiment.

“And why stop at music? People’s tastes in books, TV and radio may also offer a window on their soul. So too might their taste in games. Indeed, I am interested in the potential for using gaming techniques, not just to extract data on people’s preferences, but as a means of generating data on preferences and actions.”

He compared the accuracy of the Spotify gauge to the Michigan consumer confidence test in the US, though admitted it's challenging.

“Capturing people’s true sentiments and preferences is devilishly difficult. Traditional surveys of market participants or the general public tend to be biased in their sampling and framed in their responses. As in quantum physics, the act of observing can itself alter behaviour.”

Haldane underlined that even online video games like World of Warcraft, titles with internal economies could be used to test how moods affect consumer spend.

His comments came as part of a speech released today. Read the full speech here.

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