Metallica Uses Spotify User Data to Make Setlists

The future is here. Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek, recently revealed that Metallica, among other bands, use Spotify data to make the setlists for their shows so local fans can enjoy it. So, if fans in Seattle enjoy listening to “Escape,” then that will likely influence the band’s decision to play it at their Seattle show.

According to an article by Quartz, Ek said:

“You have an artist like Metallica, who changes their setlist on a city-by-city basis just by looking at Spotify data to see, which the most popular songs happened to be in that city. We’ve never before been at a place in time where you could make as many informed decisions and understand your audience as well as we can do now as an artist.”

The article also states that Ulrich has been doing this since before Spotify was even formed, pulling songs from past performances. Ulrich mentioned in an interview with 98Rock in Baltimore in 2017, that he changes six to eight of the songs so that the audience will get a different experience.

“I’ll sit and look at last couple times we played [in the area] — whatever city we’re in, I’ll look at the last 10 years worth of shows from that particular city. Obviously, there’s certain songs we ‘have’ to play, but then there’s the deeper cuts — and the deeper cuts I always try to vary. So if we played ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ the last time, maybe I’ll put ‘Through the Never’ or ‘Breadfan’ or whatever. I try to vary six or eight of the deeper songs so you give fans a different setlist and a different experience. Since I started doing that, it correlates with when we started taping all our shows and we offer them for sale on something called, mixed by the same team that mixes our albums. Since we started doing that in ’03 or ’04, we haven’t played the same setlist twice.”

“It’s not just for the fans, but it’s also for us — it keeps us on our toes.”


David Gagnon

Born in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Dave has laid down his soul to the gods rock n' roll. He attended Columbia College Chicago as a major in Creative Writing. Some of his favorite things are heavy metal and pizza.

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