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How Spotify used listening data to discover Cornell students wake up early

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Music streaming service Spotify analyzed listening data from the 40 universities where students were most likely to subscribe to their student deal for Spotify Premium. According to the company, this doesn't just tell you which artists are popular on which campuses — it tells you students' sleeping schedules, too.

On average, based on when at least 50 percent of Spotify subscribers are listening to music, the typical college Spotify listener wakes up at 9:30 a.m. and goes to bed around 1 a.m. But Cornell University wakes up early:

cornell spotify graph

Other things that Spotify found make colleges distinctive: Ohio State is the most likely to listen to classical. The University of Colorado likes Beyoncé less than usual. And the University of Minnesota listens to "Let It Go" more than anywhere else — maybe because of the long winters in the Twin Cities.

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