May 23, 2022

Data Mining Spotify: How Students Listen to Music On U.S. College Campuses; What Types of Music are They Listening To?

Spotify shares some insights about how students are listening to the service and the genres of music they’re listening to in this new blog post that highlights Spotify’s “Top 40 Musical Universities in the U.S.”

From the Blog Post:

Paul Lamere, director of developer platform for The Echo Nest at Spotify, identified several distinct musical characteristics of each university: the artists, songs, and genres they listen to way more than the students at other schools.

The map and list lead to individual pages for each school where you can really delve into the data.

“We saw quite a bit of diversity in listening behavior, especially in the distinctive tracks and artists that define a school’s taste,” said Lamere. “I was also really interested in getting insights into the sleep/wake cycles at these schools through music — it’s interesting that some schools stay up late, some get up early, and others do both, burning the candle at both ends as it were.”

A Few Overall Observations

To be clear, these “distinctive” traits mean that a school listens to a song, artist, or genre disproportionately to the other schools. All of the schools showed plenty of variety; looking for distinctive traits makes their unique qualities stand out in relief.

In “the city that never sleeps,” listening patterns indicate that NYU students get an hour’s less sleep on average. They also listen to more slowcore and hipster playlists.

  • Cornell University listening spikes at 6am and 7am (right). One possibility: its students wake up and exercise before class more than those at other schools.
  • University of Colorado Boulder students play our study-oriented Focus playlists the most. They’re also top streamers of Relax.
  • Who listens to the happiest songs? it’s Iowa State, followed closely by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, University of Georgia, and University of Alabama.
  • Northeastern students enjoy metal, jazz, and Christian music, but not juggalos or listening at night.
  • Ohio State listens to the most classical.
  • Penn State kids rock out on high-energy music, R&B, punk, and the EDM artist Hardwell way more than the kids at the other schools.

The complete Spotify blog has a bit more including a link to this list ten where you can find out more about how students listen to music at each school. For example, here are pages for UC Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and the University of North Texas.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.