Ollie, 27, joined Beatza – a new music streaming service on London’s Old Street Roundabout – after four years at Spotify. As a playlist curator, he sees himself as “providing the soundtrack to people’s lives” via increasingly specific playlists – among them, “Squat Goals: Tracks For Leg Workouts”, “Older Not Wiser: Music For Feeling Unexpectedly Emotional On Your Birthday” and “Bake It Off: Best Taylor Swift Songs For Baking To”. He monitors their success obsessively on his analytics dashboard. His mother misspells Beatza as Bizza, to rhyme with pizza, since Ollie tried to explain streaming to her as “picking songs from a musical buffet”.
Today, Ollie uploads “Hotel Feels: Songs For Feeling Disappointed In Hotels”. It’s inspired by a recent conference in Helsinki where he met Brittany, a Canadian student who is starting Doop, a dating app for dog owners. To Ollie’s surprise, she declined his invitation to his room. He opens with Dua Lipa’s “Homesick”, and sandwiches a new grime artist between Elvis and Ed Sheeran. Ollie often wonders if he could do his job without Ed.
Soon after, his boss Steve calls him to “the hub”, an orange carpeted area with egg chairs. Over free coconut waters Steve says he feels like Ollie’s playlists, which are obviously amazing, are getting a little too specific. He suggests tweaking the latest to “Hotel Songs For Holidays”, adding that most users only want: “Peaceful Piano”, “Dancefloor Bangers” and “Sad Songs For Crying”.
Silently enraged, Ollie changes the title and first song. Steve messages “Nice one Ollie. S”. Next, Ollie uploads: “Sorry Not Sorry: Songs For When You Have To Suck It Up”. It makes a Buzzfeed list of “Ridiculous Playlist Names” – prompting 50,000 new Beatza subscribers, a message from Brittany and promotion from an oblivious Steve. Ollie starts on “Ironic: 90s One Hit Wonders”.