That Scannable Spotify Tattoo Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time
It’s becoming popular to get inked with a barcode so you can flash your flesh to turn on music. But the codes can stop working as skin sags and ink fades.
By Megan Graham
Mary Haley has the perfect party trick: a barcode-like tattoo of nearly two dozen fine lines that, when scanned with a Spotify music app, prompts a phone to play “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega.
Haley, who is 33 and runs a marketing agency in Skowhegan, Maine, got the Spotify tattoo in early 2022. When she moonlights as a waitress at a local snowmobiler bar, guests will sometimes ask her what song it plays. She often tells them, ‘You have to scan it.’ If they do, they are rewarded with lyrics that include the line, “A little bit of Mary all night long.”
Just how long the tattoo will perform as advertised is a painful subject. A growing cadre of music fans have joined the Spotify tattoo craze as a conversation starter or a way to commemorate sentimental favorites like wedding first-dance songs. But while many on social media tout the tats and how well they scan, some are starting to discover that nothing in life is permanent, even tattoos. Over time, ink fades. As skin ages it may warp the lines.
Haley said her tattoo artist tried to ward off the ravages of time by making the lines thinner than normal. “Eventually, they will get fuzzy, like regular tattoos,” said Haley, who also has eight other tattoos.