The weather and its many faces have served as an inspiration for many musicians, who have crooned about the London fog, the Sun coming out, stormy weather and the clothes you wear for a season. Now Spotify is teaming up with AccuWeather to build on that, with a new service called Climatune — playlists that are based on the weather in your location in real time, and the mood that it creates.
This is reminiscent of a feature that Songza (a music recommendation service eventually acquired by Google) once created with the Weather Company (eventually acquired by IBM), where users could fine-tune the music Songza recommended based not only on time, date and location, but also on the weather wherever they happened to be.
Climatune is a little different: Spotify has created a distinct website, which detects your location (or closest location that it’s tracking) and then presents you with a playlist of 30 tracks to fit the weather.
Spotify says that the list is based on it crunching through one year of weather data and correlating it to 85 billion streams on Spotify — effectively matching up what was listened to when the weather was rainy, sunny, cloudy, windy and snowy. Then it used the results of that to pick up tunes and lookalike tunes to create the lists.
The site also features interactive wallpapers, but Spotify doesn’t actually want you there permanently: It puts in only preview links to tracks, and you have to go to Spotify itself to actually listen to the full songs. That’s because this is all ultimately about bringing more audience and engagement to Spotify itself.
Audience and engagement metrics are important for the company at the moment, as it is seeking to renegotiate its licensing terms with labels. From what we have heard, it may try to move away from payment per stream to flat rates. So the more it can show to rightsholders that people are using Spotify for the full experience, and not for specific songs, the more this supports that position.
It’s also an important way of bringing in users who are not music enthusiasts who always know what they want to listen to. With 30 million tracks available, many casual listeners just want recommendations rather than figuring out what to play.
While Climatune is tuned to your specific location, if you want to switch the weather to listen to snow even though it’s raining where you are, you can select a different weather pattern and another city’s playlist will come up.
Some of the correlations seem a little predictable. Spotify says it found that sunny days “typically bring higher-energy, happier-sounding music — songs that feel fast, loud and noisy, with more ‘action,’ as well as happy, cheerful, euphoric emotions associated with the major mode and other musical factors,” while rainy days “bring lower-energy, sadder-sounding music with more acoustic vs. electronic sounds.”
But there are also some exceptions, too: apparently in Chicago, people stream more upbeat music when it rains.
And aside from whatever trends they may be uncovering, there is some repetition across the lists, too, which makes me wonder whether this might also be a vehicle to promote certain songs a little more, or if it’s just a measure of their transcending popularity at the moment. For example, in the playlists for sunny London and windy Lisbon, both feature Ride, by Twenty One Pilots, and Kill Em With Kindness, by Selena Gomez.
“There is a clear connection between what’s in the skies and what’s on users’ play queues. For almost all of the major cities around the world that we studied, sunny days translate to higher streams of happier-sounding music. Sunny weather has an even bigger impact in Europe,” writes Ian Anderson, Spotify’s tongue-in-cheek head data researcher.