Spotify’s Newest Non-Genre

Spotifys Newest Non-Genre

Abby Love and Danica Jordan

On Dec. 1, the long-awaited Spotify Wrapped arrived, telling listeners stats like their top songs, artists, listening time and more. It was not without its criticism, however. From the frankly quite hideous graphic design to a questionable genre. Among the top five genres of the year, some listeners received the “Dream SMP” as a genre.

If you’re out of the loop, the Dream SMP is a Minecraft server started by Minecraft YouTuber Dream and his friends. Since its creation, the server has created a complex storyline where streamers act out “lore” live on Twitch and YouTube. Over quarantine, the Dream SMP has gained a massive fanbase, with live viewer counts in the hundreds of thousands. TommyInnit, one of the main streamers on the server, earned a Guinness World Record for the most live viewers of a Minecraft livestream with 650,237 live viewers on one of his Dream SMP streams. YouTuber Technoblade got an even higher viewer count on his YouTube stream, with around 850,000 live viewers. The SMP has also inspired masses of fan content, including songs, art, writing, and animatics.

However, along with this enormous group of fans, the Dream SMP has attracted just as large a group of antis, who for various reasons are not just non-fans of the SMP, but actively hate on its content creators and those who enjoy it. This is largely an effect of the “cancel culture” phenomenon. Many of the streamers on the Dream SMP have been “canceled,” or deemed problematic by the people of Twitter for things such as old tweets that have been dug up. But beyond that, the Dream SMP has also been a victim of bandwagon hate, with people really just hating on it because it’s popular. 

But for whatever reason, Spotify decided that this fandom in particular would get its own genre on the app. According to Google, a genre is “a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.” The main problem with this “genre” that Spotify has created is that, simply put, it can’t be a genre. It’s not cohesive when it comes to the form or style of the music these artists are producing, and especially not subject matter. Considering the name of this category, it would be expected that all of the songs are about the Dream SMP and that all of the artists do, in fact, write about a Minecraft server in their songs, but that’s just not the case. The only artists listed that do write about the Dream SMP are Derivakat, who found a following through her fan songs, and CG5, who (at the time of writing) has two songs labeled as “original DSMP songs” and one song labeled as an “original Dream Team song.” 

So why are artists being put in this category? Well, there isn’t one answer that applies to every one. The Minecraft soundtrack was pretty obviously added because the Dream SMP is a Minecraft server, no questions there. At least three have probably been added because the artists are directly involved in the main lore on the DSMP (Dream, Tubbo, and Wilbur Soot), but Corpse Husband may have also been added to this “genre” for a similar reason— he’s not part of the lore, but Corpse has occasionally been on the server—  bringing the total to four. Beyond his fan songs, CG5 is also one of two artists (Him and Alec Benjamin) who were more than likely added due to their collaborations with artists who are also content creators of the DSMP (CG5 featured on Tubbo’s first song, “Life By The Sea” and Alec Benjamin collaborated with Dream on “Change My Clothes.”) 

After that, it gets a bit more complex. Lemon Demon and the soundtracks from Undertale and Deltarune were both probably added because of Ranboo, a streamer on the SMP who regularly plays Lemon Demon in the background of his streams and who has used songs from Undertale in his lore in the past. Lovejoy, an indie rock band from Britain, is entirely unaffiliated with the DSMP aside from the fact that their lead vocalist is none other than Wilbur Soot. More than likely, this was all that was needed for Spotify to lump them into this category. Glass Animals, on the other hand, was most likely added to the list due to their song “Heat Waves,” after a fanfiction by the same name involving members of the DSMP exploded in fame (or, perhaps, infamy) online. 

It’s clear there’s an issue here. The so-called Dream SMP “genre” simply cannot be a genre. It’s disjointed and not really unified around any idea these artists all write about. The biggest issue, however, is with Spotify’s choice to lump artists such as Alec Benjamin, Lemon Demon and Glass Animals into this genre. Fans of these artists who have absolutely no interest in the Dream SMP are having this genre show up on their Spotify Wrapped, and what about people who listen to video game soundtracks such as Undertale and Minecraft’s? Not everyone who likes Minecraft is interested in the Dream SMP, and that’s something that Spotify clearly overlooked. In their attempt to “appeal to the teens,” Spotify is clearly upsetting non-fans of the Dream SMP by lumping the artists they actually listen to into this sad attempt at a genre. 

This isn’t the only unconventional genre that Spotify has invented for Wrapped. Spotify has over 5000 different “genres” in their database. These vary from traditional genres like “Rock” or “Pop” to things like “Bubblegrunge,” “Glitchcore,” “Boogie-Woogie,” “British Invasion,” and even “Ninja.” It’s clear Spotify is trying to get as specific as possible in describing different kinds of music, but after a certain point it just makes things more confusing. Genres can be helpful in sorting artists to better help a listener find similar music, but if you can’t tell what “Weirdcore” even means, then what’s the point?

But beyond weird names, it’s odd that “Dream SMP” is the only fandom which has given a Spotify genre. Fan songs are not an uncommon thing to find for different content, so why aren’t other things given their own categories? 

This genre also does create an issue for some of the content creators on the SMP who also make music. For creators like Wilbur Soot in particular, his solo music and band shouldn’t be forced into a category about his Minecraft content when it doesn’t have anything to do with it despite him being part of it and his fans having similar tastes in music. And Lovejoy isn’t just made up of Wilbur either. There’s not a reason for the other members of the band to have their music put into this box that doesn’t fit them. 

Despite all of these issues, however, the outrage from unassuming antis who were told they listen to a lot of “Dream SMP” music is, admittedly, quite funny. People on TikTok and other social medias lamented about being too filled with shame to post their Spotify Wrapped statistics lest their followers find out the music they listen to is similar to those who enjoy watching Minecraft streamers. 

This “Dream SMP” genre does raise some questions about Spotify and its categorization. Do we really need 5000+ genres? Should fandoms even have a genre? Is Spotify just trying really hard to appeal to the youth? No matter what, don’t feel ashamed about having the Dream SMP in your top genres. It’s not your fault that Spotify doesn’t know what a genre is.