This article is focused on Spotify. Now you’re probably wondering. What the hell does Spotify have to do with data? Realistically, not that much, but I wanted to take the time to in depth highlight some of the great things Spotify is doing in the data world, and heck even some things that are completely off the data beaten road.
Discover Weekly is a new feature Spotify fully released over the summer. Every Monday, the playlist updates and gives you 30 songs you might have never heard of. It takes data that they’ve stored on you, and come up with songs that they believe you might like. Sounds great right? Yes. It is great, but after having used this feature for a couple months now there are a few flaws in their system.
1. Discover Weekly seems to pull based off of your all time plays. So if you decide you want to listen to a genre you don’t often listen to for an entire week, that won’t be reflected in your Discover Weekly. This isn’t necessarily a plus or a minus. For me, I’d rather get music suggestions based on the music I’ve listened to most recently.
2. There is a supreme lack of visibility in their process. Understandably they don’t want someone else to copy how this works. I would be really curious in reverse engineering their algorithm, but that would involve keeping track of everything I listen to throughout a week (impossible), and I’d have to suddenly become a software engineer(which I’m not), plus Spotify will never release how promotional activity affects this playlist.
3. The refresh time of the playlist seems to be really arbitrary, and I’m not sure what causes it. I’ve had my playlist refresh at 2 in the morning on Monday, and I’ve had it refresh at 10pm on Monday. The inconsistency is rather annoying for those of us who are super habitual beings. UPDATE: I’ve now noticed that it seems to refresh whenever you restart the client. It would be nice if they had a push setting to alert the user they need to restart the client to retrieve it Ryan Van Wagenen.
4. Sometimes stuff shows up that you just don’t like, and it’s almost infuriating when it does. There’s no way to really fix this on their end, but it would be nice if I was somehow given the ability to opt out on certain bands. For instance, I had Upon a Burning Body show up on my playlist, which I’ve listened to them in the past. Well, I had a major fall out with that band after some stunts they pulled on their new album. I lost all respect for the band and want nothing to do with listening to them.
5. Sometimes songs show up that are already on one of your playlists. In the 10 weeks I’ve been using this playlist, I’ve only had this happen once. But it’s still disappointing.
Those are the negatives, but let’s talk more about the positives, and why this provides a great listening experience for someone like me, the user.
1. Rediscovering music you forgot existed. Yea, I listen to a lot of music. I’ve been known to blast a song nonstop for a couple days, then never listen to it again because I forgot to attach it to a playlist, or I have trouble finding the appropriate playlist to put it on. Almost every week I rediscover one of those songs, and it’s exciting to rehear something you love.
2. Hearing other songs from an artist you originally thought you only liked a couple songs to. This is one of my favorite things about the playlist by far. Sometimes I’ll hear a song by a band, just to listen to 5 other songs and completely hate them so I give up on the band. Then that band shows up in my DW, I grumble, and the song ends up being amazing.
3. Discovering a band you don’t listen to that much or follow well dropped a new album, AND it’s amazing. It’s kind of embarrassing discovering a band you really like put out a new album 3 months ago and you didn’t know about it. But Spotify is to the rescue!
Spotify Radio (1/5)
Spotify’s radio offering is not good. Plain and simple. Pandora is in my opinion an antiquated service, but they have mastered the art of radio much better than Spotify. If there is anything Spotify could afford to fix more than anything else, it’s their radio. It is rather annoying to make a playlist that’s about 50 songs long, wanting to improve upon it, starting a playlist radio, and hearing a bunch of songs that not only don’t belong in that playlist, but when you spam the next song button get a repeat of songs.
Spotify radio has been awful for a long time. I want to believe it’s because the radio pulls from promoted bands more so than bands that actually play along with the other musicians that it is relationally pulling from. If that’s the case, then it’s disappointing, but I understand Spotify needs to raise revenues.