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What I Learned From Getting Hacked On Spotify

Thinking I could enjoy some tunes on a relaxing winter break evening, I opened Spotify on my computer. I expected to click “shuffle” on my Liked Songs playlist and hear my favorite hits as usual. This time, however, I saw that a song I didn’t recognize was playing. Trying to figure out where the music was coming from, I checked the devices connected to my account. Lo and behold, a random desktop was playing songs on my Spotify.

Naturally, my first response was to be outraged. How dare someone hack my sacred Spotify account? And even worse, what if their listening habits affect my Spotify Wrapped playlist next year? Clearly, the stakes were high. But for some reason, I decided to wait and see if the hacker would go away with time. Suppressing my initial anger, I played some songs on my desktop and tried to forget about the whole thing.

To my surprise, it wasn’t the end. The hacker returned every day for a week or so, playing a series of unrecognizable tunes each time. Instead of getting frustrated again, I decided to see what the culprit was playing. Browsing through my Recently Played songs, I found all kinds of unfamiliar tracks in a wide range of genres from electronic dance music to classical piano. When I played the songs, I realized that my Spotify hacker had seriously good taste.

Concert with confetti
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
For the next several days after this discovery, I’d check my Spotify to see what tunes the hacker had in rotation. I’d listen to them one by one, exposing myself to songs in genres and languages I’d never played in the past. From Italian rap to obscure synth-pop, I found myself getting familiar with a wider range of music than I ever had. After a while, I was kind of amused by this quasi-song recommendation system.

Soon, though, I remembered that the person behind these new music discoveries was a hacker. I finally decided to change my account information and kick them out for good. Since then, the mystery user hasn’t returned. My Recently Played songs have been free of random tracks and back to familiar playlists.

Woman with headphones listening to music
Bruce Mars
Even though I’ve returned to my usual rotation, I’ve learned to appreciate a newly expanded range of music styles. Sometimes, I even go back and listen to the hacker’s songs. In the past, it was easy to keep playing the same music every day, especially when hitting “shuffle” on my Liked Songs playlist made it so convenient. But in the brief period where some stranger took over my Spotify, I broke that cycle and expanded my music taste. Sometimes all it takes is a hacker to broaden your horizons.

Jennifer Anderson

UC Berkeley '22

Jennifer Anderson is a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Media Studies and History. Outside of school, you can find her rewatching Glee for the 20th time, trying out new dessert recipes, and exploring the Bay Area.
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