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Spirituality in the digital age: New data shows how the holy month of Ramadan impacts the way people consume music and content on Spotify

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Muslims around the world entered the contemplative month of Ramadan on 22 March, and global music streaming platform Spotify provided an accompaniment for their spiritual journey with a dedicated Ramadan hub full of content offering both inspiration and mindful entertainment.

In addition to the hub, the platform’s data paints an interesting picture of how the consumption of audio such as music and podcasts, changes to reflect this period in users’ lives. The data was pulled from eight key markets– Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Indonesia – and shows a definitive shift to a more mindful, spiritual tone.

 

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Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Spotify SSA’s Managing Director says, “Music and storytelling, which is what podcasting is, are deeply intertwined in the way we experience the world – whether it be how we celebrate, or in the case of Ramadan, how we contemplate the many facets of our lives. Religion and spirituality are deeply personal experiences, and we are humbled that people turn to Spotify to give expression to these parts of their lives.”

Spirituality in the digital age

During Ramadan, the streaming of content such as music, meditative podcasts and yoga playlists, peaks at 8am across all the markets analysed, suggesting that listeners use the app to cultivate a sense of calm mindfulness going into the day. Quran readings are streamed at night or early morning. In general, people stream more at night during Ramadan, except for a sudden drop in use during sunset. This aligns with Muslims hitting pause for prayers and breaking their fasts with family, but then using the evening hours to unwind or seek out religious teachings.

 

In Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria there were drops in Scripted Fiction podcasts, as well as in a range of sports sub-genres, indicating a distinct shift away from entertainment in favour of the more mindful practices of the Holy Month. Curiously, Nigerian users have also been listening to more podcasts about Digital Culture during Ramadan, but other entertainment genres like Horror/Paranormal and Science Fiction and Fantasy have both seen marked drops.

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More connection, less drama

During Ramadan in previous years, Spotify saw a 53% increase in the streaming of religious podcasts. This points to the use of the app for Quran readings, Islamic lectures, and other digital religious resources. Dive a little deeper to look at the sub-genres, and there’s an increase in listenership for ‘Human Interest’ and ‘Culture and Identity’ podcasts, at 27% and 24% respectively. In Nigeria, one of the largest shifts in the data is a 680% spike in the podcast genre ‘Trying Moments’.

 

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This makes perfect sense: Ramadan is a time for fasting as a means to enhance spiritual focus. It primarily means abstaining from food and water during the day, but can also include using meaningful content to elevate one’s spiritual journey – podcasts about cooking, Islamic history and ideas for making the most out of Ramadan. The listening spike in Trying Moments podcasts indicates a search for empathy, connection and inspiration that comes from hearing others’ stories.

Chill, happy, free

The top three moods for music streamed on Spotify during Ramadan are ’chill’, ‘happy’ and ‘free’ – states of mind that can all contribute to the experience of a blessed Ramadan. The data suggests that music is being used as a powerful tool for influencing mood, helping to cultivate feelings of patience and positivity.

 

In addition, Spotify found that users use chill audio content ‘to enhance their experience of other highly personal activities consistent with looking to disconnect, like taking a walk outside or sharing a meal with their partner after a day at work,” so the use of chill music during this time could be a result of users setting out to create set a contemplative mood.

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