British band Bring Me the Horizon has launched a new merch line with a twist: a dedicated website that serves up personalized T-shirts to people based on their Spotify listening data.
The site, called “amo in colour” is a reference to the band’s most recent album, amo, which was released earlier this year. When you visit the website, you’re prompted to connect with your Spotify credentials and then pick your six favorite tracks from amo. It then takes your list and any of your previous listening habits with Bring Me the Horizon on Spotify and uses music intelligence platform The Echo Nest to analyze loudness and energy. If you don’t have a Spotify account, you can still connect with email and manually input song choices to generate a design.
You’re then delivered a mock-up of the shirt, which is the unicursal hexagram symbol often used by the group, saturated in a smear of color unique to your data. It tells you if you listen to the band’s catalog in a rare or common way, and then, if you wish, you can buy the shirt. I picked more electronic-leaning tracks like “nihilist blues (feat. Grimes)” and was given a deep, magenta-hued hexagram along with a statement that said I was among the “most rare group of listeners.”
The site only analyzes your listening history with this specific band, not your overall Spotify history. So, if they’re not already in rotation for you, the only data it has to go off of is whatever six songs you pick manually on the website. That’s a pretty limited use of Spotify’s data, and it was a little frustrating to not know how many possible shirt designs there could be (10? 100? Thousands?) or get any more insight into my result other than that I’m an apparently “rare” Bring Me the Horizon listener. (Based on what? I have no idea.)
Merch is an incredibly important source of revenue for musicians, and it can often be a main source of income alongside things like tours and licensing deals. Spotify first let artists sell merch on their profile pages in 2014, and then it partnered to integrate Merchbar in 2016. There have been some interesting outcomes, like a partnership between Pat McGrath Labs and singer Maggie Lindemann that let fans buy the custom makeup collection on Lindemann’s Spotify page.
In order to create your custom shirt, you’ll have grant the album’s label — Sony Music Entertainment — a lot of access to your Spotify data. Spotify’s API — an online protocol that allows companies to share data — was questioned earlier this year by Billboard for giving overreaching permissions to labels. In particular, Billboard said Sony Music Entertainment often asks for the most access, and the company is still asking for the same set of permissions here, including the ability to stream and control Spotify on your other devices. One thing has changed: at the time, these permissions were hidden in drop-down menus. Now, they’re not.
Permissions and limited application aside, the idea of using fan streaming data to customize things like shirts for fans is especially intriguing, especially in a world that increasingly wants greater access to artists and values physical music merch more than it has in a long time.