Every semester before midterms and finals, I find myself spending hours upon hours re-reading course materials, studying, and writing papers. To keep myself focused, I listen to my Spotify “Reading” playlist. My “Reading” playlist is the third playlist that I created on Spotify (The first being “EDM” and the second being “Oldies Ballads”, don’t judge). Since 2010, I have compiled over 100 various classical, jazz, and relaxing songs to create this playlist. The music allows me to concentrate and keeps me engaged in my current task. However, by binging on classical and jazz music for weeks leading up to a test or project, my Discover Weekly playlist becomes heavily influenced by these two genres of music. This would be great if I wanted to find new classical and jazz artists. However, I do not. I prefer my Discover Weekly to include a mix of alternative rock, classic rock, and punk. This reoccurrence has made me interested in learning more about Spotify’s algorithm and if I could find out how to turn off their algorithm. By the way, currently, I am writing this blogpost to Joey Alexander’s “Sunday Waltz”. A brilliant song written and performed by a 13-year-old Grammy award winning Jazz artist. I anticipate that my Discover Weekly” will be influence by the music I listen to writing this post.
Spotify describes Discover Weekly as a “weekly roundup of songs we think you’ll love. Based on your listening history and that of other Spotify fans with similar tastes, Discover Weekly gets even better the more you use Spotify”. The playlist is refreshed every Monday. It is available to both free and premium customers. Discover Weekly will appear after a Spotify user has been listening to music for two weeks. Spotify has a unique algorithm that considers multiple factors for music recommendations. You may be surprised that the main factor in Discover Weekly is other people’s playlist. Spotify will analyze grouping of songs and music tastes from millions of user playlists. If another user’s playlist contains songs that you listen to frequently, Spotify will take other songs from that user’s playlist and recommend them to you. Playlists with a large amount of followers have more weight in recommendations than those with lower numbers. I have no followers, so I do not think my music taste influences many people.
The next component of Spotify’s Discover Weekly is a taste profile. Spotify will analyze your music taste based off your playlists and what you are listening to. The taste profiles are very complex. A user is not just listening to rock or rap, but finite sub genres like southern soul or g-funk. In 2014, Spotify acquired Echo Nest to help in creation of these sub groups. Echo Nest is a music intelligence platform that uses machine learning to categorize and discover new music genres. Click here to see a map of music genresand how they connect created by Echo Nest.
The algorithm combines the groupings from millions of playlists with your taste profile to create your Discover Weekly playlist every Monday. The algorithm filters through the data using collaborative filtering and natural language processing. Collaborative filtering is what amazon uses to recommend products (“Customers who bought this product also bought”) and natural language processing is how Echo Nest can translates and understands playlist titles and descriptions. The algorithm does filters out specific music genres. For example, if you use you are mother and use Spotify to play nursery rhymes, Spotify will not include children’s songs in your Discover Weekly.
So, how do you turn off Spotify’s algorithm? Simple answer. Private mode. I do not know why I thought this was going to be more complicated. I was thinking it would be as difficult as turning off Facebook’s algorithm. Private mode has existed since 2011. It was developed to ensure privacy for users who did not want their friends to know that they are listening to Kenny G or in my case Emo music. To activate private mode simply go to your Menu Bar, click on Spotify, and select Private Listening. As, I did my research for this blog post I switched to private mode so my Discover Weekly did not get influenced by the classical music I was listening to.
Spotify has tips to improve the accuracy of Discover Weekly.
- Add songs that you like to your library or playlists. Songs that are added to your playlist will help Spotify determine your music taste.
- Skip songs that you do not like. If you skip a song before 30 seconds, Spotify will reads this action as if you dislike the song. The only case where skipping songs does not influence your music taste is when you are listening to Discover Weekly. Spotify encourages users to listen to their entire Discover Weekly playlist and will not make recommendations based off listening behavior.
- Take time to explore the biographies or discographies of artists that you like. Spotify will see that you are exploring these artists and recommend similar artists.
- Do you have a friend that has good music taste? Listen to your friends Discover Weekly. The playlist is private but can be shared by the user.
- Discover Weekly does not have to end after 30 songs. Use Spotify Radio to create a radio playlist based off your Discover Weekly.
I hope that this post will lead you to places of musical bliss. Is your Discover Weekly accurate? Do you find other music streaming service better? Let me know your thoughts.