If you’ve ever been listening to your favorite jams and noticed your Bichon Frise bopping along beside you, you’re far from alone. In a survey of how humans interact with music and pets, the music streaming service Spotify found that over 70% of people do indeed play music for their pets. To accommodate your fuzzy companion’s music needs, Spotify is launching Pet Playlists to help you customize music for your pet.
By answering a few questions about your furry, feathery, or scaly friend with Spotify’s new pet playlist feature, you’ll receive about 30 tracks customized just for you and your pet. Using Pet Playlists, you can select from a few different pet options — cat, dog, iguana, hamster, or bird — and answer some character-defining questions about them. Then, Spotify's algorithm can curate a playlist based on your pet’s personality and your own music tastes. By visiting spotify.com/pets on your desktop or phone, you can choose your fighter (erm, pet) and then input whether your friend is more relaxed or energetic, shy or friendly, apathetic or curious. You can then show off your pet's excellent taste in music on social media, if you post the personalized sharecard that you receive with your playlist.
Here's an example of how it works: I don't have a pet myself, but when I went to make a playlist for Ms. Frizzle's pet lizard Liz (yes, from The Magic School Bus, because if there is an option for an iguana playlist, why not take it?), I got a playlist featuring a cover of Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing," Elliott Yamen's "Wait For You," and Passenger's "Let Her Go." Telling, right?
Spotify’s research has found that, indeed, you and your pet probably already have an established relationship with music. In a global online survey of over 5,000 music-streamers with pets from the United States, the UK, Australia, Spain, and Italy, Spotify found that 71% of people with pets play music for them, with nearly 50% saying that their pets have music genre preferences (with classical and soft rock being the most popular pet choices). The survey also found that if you’ve ever taken it a step further and danced with your pet, you’re not alone — 57% of people with pets dance with their animal, while 69% sing to their pet. Most people with pets actively use music to keep their pet company, to boost their happiness, and to help their friend relieve stress.
To create these playlists, Spotify created an algorithm informed by the insight of musicologist David Teie, a cellist with America’s National Symphony Orchestra. Teie, who composes music for cats (which is exactly what it sounds like), advised the platform on what certain animals tend to like or dislike. For example, dogs tend to perceive music in the lower register as a threat, so if you say you’re making a playlist for a barking friend, the algorithm might discourage these kinds of sounds. Even though your pet is, of course, an individual like you, they may well find that their very own algorithm-generated Spotify playlist is especially pleasing.
Whether you have a hamster or an iguana, a dog, cat, or a bird, Spotify’s new Pet Playlists is a lot of fun to play with. It might turn out that they love artists you’ve never heard of (or hate your favorite artists — awkward). After all, algorithms curate playlists that make you feel personally attacked in all the best ways every day. Why should it be any different for your pet? If you’re looking for a new way to keep your pet company when you’re at work or just a new playlist to dance to with your hamster, Pet Playlists might just be the next thing you bond over with your best friend.