In July Spotify rolled out “Discover Weekly,” a playlist generator that automatically delivers 15-20 new songs to your personal account every Monday morning. It’s a clever move from the Swedes. At the start of each week as I slowly recover from the Sunday scaries and embrace the even scarier work week, a fresh playlist arrives, hand delivered and curated by Spotify (or Spotify’s bots or an algorithm or whatever it is that creates personalized playlists these days).
I did some digging to try and understand the nuts and bolts of Discover Weekly. Spotify’s press release keeps it pretty ambiguous:
“Every song in Discover Weekly is based both on your own listening as well as what others are playlisting and listening to around the songs you love.”
It’s pretty genius. Rather than relying on one variable (genre), Spotify has added something else to the equation: followers. When you select a radio station on Pandora, after awhile it’s the same shit over and over again. Believe me, my work plays an 80’s station ninety percent of the time and I know songs by heart from just sitting below the speaker. But Spotify Weekly, doesn’t just shoot out recommendations solely based on genre. It recommends songs that other people have discovered.
It’s not overly complex, but in some ways it’s revolutionary. When I add a song to a playlist, it recommends it to my followers and as more people add it/play it/like it, it continues to get passed on.
Does Discover Weekly live up to the claim Spotify made in its July press release?
“High Fidelity’s Rob Gordon had it right – the making of a mixtape is a very subtle art. That’s why we created Discover Weekly,” says Gustav Soderstrom, VP of Product at Spotify.”
Maybe. Maybe not. It’s too early to call. My instincts tell me to fully and wholeheartedly disagree that an algorithm can successfully recommend new music, but I can’t deny that I appreciate when a new playlist appears in my inbox every Monday morning. It’s not perfect by a long shot. But at least its spreading new music to people who care about it.
Check out the two absolute chillers below for a taste of what kind of gems Discover Weekly can produce.