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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

InternetDecember 8, 2021

Meet New Zealand’s most extreme Spotify listeners

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

This year’s Spotify Wrapped is out, and the competition is on: who among us has the wildest listening habits? Josie Adams explores for IRL

This year, one man in Auckland listened to Spotify for 468,377 minutes; or roughly 325 full days. A young woman in Wellington played Dua Lipa’s ‘Love Again’ 645 times. I, for the second year in a row, am proud to announce I’m in the top 0.5% of listeners to beloved ironic-electronic music duo 3OH!3.

Spotify’s annual “Wrapped” feature shows the power of data collection. Each year in December, the music streaming app collates its users’ favourite songs, musicians and podcasts, and presents them in a fun personal slideshow. It’s easy to be cynical: we shouldn’t enjoy Spotify Wrapped because it’s a marketing ploy, or we’re stupid to be impressed by an app just feeding us back our own choices, or we should never have used Spotify in the first place, because it underpays artists.

All of these things are true, but millions of us went ahead and shared our listening habits with the world. We were proud, or proud to be embarrassed, or swore we were asleep. It turns out white noise and its lesser-known cousins, pink noise and brown noise, have plenty of ardent midnight listeners.

Jarrad, the Auckland man who listened to Spotify for 325 days, played his son 12 hours of brown noise every night; with twins on the way, this number could be set to increase. Of course, that still leaves an impossible 13 hours every day to account for.

He’s flummoxed. “I still don’t understand how I got that number,” he said. Spotify says its Wrapped feature only includes data from 10 months of the year – January 1 through to October 31. This means now’s your chance to listen to Grimes, Mystery Skulls, or Christmas music; no-one will ever know.

It also means that Jarrad would have listened to his favourite music – brown noise, Fat Freddy’s Drop and John Mayer – for 25 hours every day.  “It doesn’t make sense, does it?” But he’s not lying, and he’s not alone – a listener in France achieved a similar ridiculous number. Jarrad puts the impossible number down to using two devices.

Despite the presence of John Mayer, he isn’t embarrassed by this year’s Wrapped results. “Last year I was in the top 0.001% of Jack Johnson listeners,” he explained.

This is what Spotify Wrapped looks like when you’re a compulsive listener and/or superfan.

A New Zealand-based Reddit user known to us only as Death6703 was in the top 0.001% of Jimmy Eat World listeners, which is maybe the single most impressive statistic I’ve seen this year. They’d listened to 9,674 minutes of the early-noughties American rock band, or almost eight straight days.

“I know that their biggest commercial success was ‘The Middle’, but I think my top five are ‘Just Tonight’, ‘Pain’, ‘Blister’, ‘Get it Faster’ and ‘Bleed American’,” Death6703 told The Spinoff. “But they have so many great songs. I could list so much more.”

The user assured us that despite the October 31 cut-off date for data collection, they haven’t let up on Jimmy Eat World. “I think I had at least an additional 50 hours in the past three weeks,” they said. “I’ve been listening to them a lot more.”

On the more modern and popular side of listenership, one Wellington woman has achieved what thousands dream of. Georgia, a 23-year-old masters student, is in the top 0.005% of Dua Lipa listeners worldwide. Her favourite song? ‘Love Again’, which she played 645 times; that’s over two full days spent listening to one song.

“I feel both proud and embarrassed,” she said. 

Despite the astonishing play time, Dua Lipa wasn’t her most-listened to artist. “Kanye West was the number one artist in my playlists this year,” she said. “It’s the world’s greatest (worst) crossover.” Human nature is complex, and so are our listening habits.

While discovering you’ve listened to 14,000 minutes – almost 10 straight days – of Dua Lipa might give some listeners a reason to step back and find some serenity in silence, Georgia feels differently. “My New Years resolution is to make it into the top 0.001%,” she said.

“Dua says jump, I say how high.”

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