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On Track: Discover Weekly

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On Track: Discover Weekly and the Daily Mix
On Track explores the features of Spotify, and how you can make the most of them. It begins with Discover Weekly, which recently hit its one-year anniversary - a feature that revolutionised the way many people see streaming and exploration in music.
In the browse screen, radio, related artists, Release Radar, Daily Mix, Discover Weekly, My Year in Music, Play it forward and Fresh Finds, Spotify seems to be searching for that sweet spot where tastemaker and user info will align to suggest music that you'll love, as accurately as possible.                
Spotify does that through a combination of filters and data that place the user within the contexts of time, location and recent listens, among others.
That's where data comes in, illuminating the patterns of listening we conform to without, perhaps, realising it ourselves. 
Matt Ogle, Ajay Kalia (middle) and Brian Whitman (right), The leads of Discover Weekly, Taste Profiles and Principle Science at Spotify. Source: The Verge
Let's dive a little deeper into what that means....
People listen to different music at different times, yet for most people, some genres and playlists are particularly popular at certain times of the day. They have rituals. This makes intuitive sense, as any person with a love of music can understand.
In the morning, something to get the pulse going, a confidence boost and motivation may be ideal. On the road or on public transport, a cinematic touch can be perfect.
After work many want to unwind and de-stress. On Friday afternoons, a soundtrack for a night out could be perfect. Many use ambient and easy listening music to sleep to drown out silence, running thoughts or noise. 
Given the individual differences in lifestyle and personality, and the deep emotional experience that music creates, for some it may well be the exact opposite.
Spotify learns from this. It makes suggestions based on when it is, and what you normally listen to then. Discover Weekly takes this several steps further.
Spotify creates a listening profile for the user. Through your listening history, the user is connected to people with similar tastes. And as your taste evolves, that profile evolves with you.
It's no simple profile either, there are at least 1,369 genres that spotify uses. Simply put, the more you listen, the more Spotify is able to tailor your taste profile.
Just a snapshot of the many different genres Spotify uses.Just a snapshot of the many different genres Spotify uses.
Discover Weekly
Discover Weekly uses a sophisticated form of algorithms - collaborative filtering. It sounds scary, but in actual fact, it is found in all manner of social media, online shopping and advertising. 
It's a recommendation system. By collecting the data of every listener, you're matched with thousands of other people with similar tastes.
Those who listen to the same tracks, and have the same favourites, and add the same songs to their playlists, have earworms to discover that you haven't heard yet.
However, Spotify is unique because of the sheer scale of data available to tailor that discovery process to individual users.
Matthew Ogle is part of the team that developed Discover Weekly.
Matthew Ogle - Sr Product Owner, What To PlayMatthew Ogle - Sr Product Owner, What To Play
Exploring a friend's favourite artists can be a deeply affecting experience. Ogle's team seeks to bring people together, in an unprecedented way. The reason it can feel like a playlist that's made for you is because, in an abstract way, it is.
            The more recently you listen to it, the more likely the algorithm
            is to look for more of that song. If you seek it out through the
            artist's page, the more likely it is that you enjoy that artist. 
Discover Weekly balances new with old. It includes tracks from artists that you love to create a sense of familiarity, making discovery a comfortable transition.
Your Daily Mix
To mark the anniversary of Discover Weekly, the Daily Mix enters the scene.
Depending on how much music you listen to, and how varied it is, you'll have one to six different mixes. Each will retune based on whether you like or hate tracks, perfect for those who want to fine tune their discovery!

Daily Mix opens up even more opportunities for discovery

Spotify's discovery algorithms have become more than just a predictive algorithm. Many people complain that some music doesn't get the attention that it deserves.
Discover Weekly has been changing that, building on other features like Fresh Finds, which bring unknown artists into the limelight. 
When someone loves a new artists they discover, those songs and artists are more likely to be added to similar users' playlists. 
Ogle explains just how extreme this phenomena has become:
           “What we found is pretty shocking: there are 2,000 artists for whom
           Discover Weekly is currently 80% of their streams, and something like
           five or six thousand for whom Discover Weekly is half of their streams.”
That's tremendous - and an important step towards what many hipsters and critics of big industry music have been craving for decades - meritocracy.
Spotify is still finding the unintended effects personalisation can have on the future of music. So too, communities of passionate listeners and musicians like ours are still adapting and discovering.
On that note, here is my Discover Weekly!
Happy listening ^_^


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