Your Ideas At Work: Shuffle Improvements

Spotify
Spotify

The Community Ideas Board isn’t just about requesting new features. It’s also about improving the features already in Spotify.

 

Take our shuffle algorithm for instance.

 

The Idea “Implement an actual shuffle function” by Community user @RoninTheOrigina  gathered over 850 votes.  Users were vocal in their comments about what they wanted (and didn’t want) when it came to shuffling playlists.

 

We then passed this knowledge on and our teams got to work.

 

The result: an improved shuffling algorithm that avoids playing a couple songs from an artist too close together.

 

shuffle algorithm.png

 

If you’re thinking, “that sounds kind of vague, what are these improvements” then fret no more.

 

Spotify’s @lukasP  has written an extensive blog post on how we gathered user feedback on Shuffle, analyzed their comments, took a hard look at our previous algorithm and found the best way to bring the improvements users wanted.

 

We’re aware this doesn’t fix all shuffling issues forever. Rest assured we are still working on this though.  You’ll also see the new algorithm in other clients other than desktop soon.

 

Now go hit shuffle on your favorite playlist and reap the benefits of your hard work clicking that Kudos button.

 

Enjoy!

 

105 Comments
BearI91
Newbie

They just put a bandage on a bulletwound 

smilenerd
Newbie

Hi.

Years later shuffle play is still garbage.

pato-espana
Newbie

Users don't want your  algorithms, shuffle should be 100% random, even if it played 4 times the same artist in a row, who cares

smilenerd
Newbie

^

Sometimes hearing the same artist twice is fun anyway. If you have two songs from the same artist in one playlist you obviously don't mind hearing them play after one another if that happens to be the extremely rare case, and sometimes you might even want to hear them back to back. So the algorithm being in place just makes zero sense.

d_a_n_e
Music Fan

Shuffle is still not fixed on the iOS apps. If I hit the SHUFFLE PLAY button on a playlist in my app, it will pick just 4 - 6 artists from it and shuffle those, even though I have 30 different artists on it. 

I have discovered, however, that when I double-click on a playlist on one of my desktop apps, it will begin shuffling that whole playlist. (It's really not obvious that you can do this). I can then shift over to playing it on my iPhone and, even though it re-shuffles the queue, it still includes the whole playlist. 

The shuffle button still really, really, really needs fixed on the iOS app!!!

FlyingPole
Newbie
I don't care about the same artist playing 4 times in a row, I care about
the same SONG played back to back.
Phail_Ninja
Newbie

My issue is it seems that the shuffle algorithm doesn't truly randomize songs. It seems to rank "favorites" to either genre song or artist and prioritize playing those every new shuffle. I have all my downloaded songs on one huge, 3.3k song playlist and I have a few select songs I swear I hear every few days if not every day. This isn't just me either, I've had this same conversation with multiple family members and friends that are all heavy Spotify users and they say they've had the same experience. My suggestion would be to have this "favorites" feature as a toggle option, and a "true shuffle" option for those who want to hear all the music. I feel like I hear the same 50-150 songs all the time and hardly hear the other 3,000 unless I queue them manually.

Jbirch1211
Newbie

The shuffling still doesn’t work. Same 20 or so songs replay never hearing any others on playlist

pierre1974
Newbie

The shuffle is NOT working... Playlist of around 400 songs and the shuffle command plays the same 30 or so tracks even when restarted or clicking on the shuffle button again... Disappointing as it looks to be a 4 years old issue... Oh! By the way that playlist was published following Bruce Springsteen's autobiography and contains mostly (but not only) his songs... So the crappy algorithm that prevents playing the same artist is absolutely irrelevant and in this very case totally wrong as it will select the same bunch of songs over and over again... Have your engineers heard of the word "random" as it is undestood in cryptography? Any man controlled selection algorithm interfering with the concept of randomness would lead to this... A functionality that achieves the opposite of what the users are looking for.

jelarv
Casual Listener

I've subscribed to Spotify for 3-4 years and I have 3 playlists, each with over 500 songs and yet it only plays the same 30 songs on each.  I've spent hours following all of the steps in the help section and none of them work (I have the problem when using my iPhone or desktop device).

KenF14
Casual Listener
Unreal
KenF14
Casual Listener

Frustrating 

FlyingPole
Newbie

This thread has been going since 2014 and spotify hasn't done anything to fix such a simple issue. It makes it feel like spotify doesn't care.

francispotter1
Newbie

I've read the "How to shuffle songs" post and many of the comments on the various threads, and have also experimented with the shuffle feature on Spotify (both desktop and mobile), and I can say with high confidence that the shuffle feature does not implement either the methodology described or what most people would expect, when shuffling long playlists.

 

Specifically, the shuffle appears to be highly weighted toward songs in the proximity of the first song played. In the case of the main shuffle button, that means songs near the top of the playlist, as it is sorted at the moment the button is clicked.

 

I have a playlist with over 2,000 songs on it by a variety of artists. When I sort the playlist by artist and click the button to shuffle play, about 90% of the songs I hear are by artists whose names start with "A". If I reverse the sort, I hear mostly songs by artists whose names start with letters near the end of the alphabet like "W".

 

As another example, if I sort the playlist by track length then shuffle, my queue is full of short songs. Reverse the sort and shuffle again, and my queue is full of long songs.

 

The default sort for a playlist (and the only one that appears to be available on mobile) is by date added to the playlist. So when I use the "Shuffle Play" button on a mobile device, I generally hear the songs I added to the playlist first. Yes, the order is shuffled, but the selection of songs seems to be limited or weighted toward that group.

 

What's more interesting, if I double-click on a track in the desktop version, and the shuffle mode is set, I'll hear songs close -- in the current sort order -- to the track that I clicked. So, for example, when I sorted by artist name and double-clicked on an artist whose name starts with "J", I heard mostly tracks by artists whose names start with "J".

 

While this is all an interesting experience (it's kinda fun sometimes to say I want to hear the short songs, for example), I'm pretty sure the actual behavior is different from what the engineers/designers intended, and I'm also pretty sure it's rarely what anybody wants when they ask to shuffle a playlist.

 

Note that all of these observations are anecdotal, and all based on a 2,000+ track playlist, so it's possible I've got the details a little off. But the experience is reproducible on multiple devices with multiple experiences. And it would fully explain why so many people claim to hear the same few songs repeatedly when they shuffle a long playlist.

 

 

It appears that the developers apply the "How to shuffle songs" approach, but that there is some limit (perhaps based on memory or processor capacity) to the number of songs that can be shuffled. I'm guessing they just fudge and pull a few hundred songs off the top before shuffling. So it probably works well for albums and short playlists, but breaks down for longer playlists, which is really unfortunate. It would be cool if there was a random selection of the tracks to be shuffled, or some option to perform a pure Fisher-Yates shuffle on the playlist itself before selecting the songs, or something like that.

 

In any case, the experience is counterintuitive and suboptimal. As an avid long-time Spotify customer, I'd love to see some improvement in this area.

rou70_-5eicjs
Newbie

My friends are having this SAME problem with my playlist on their phones. The algorithm seems to work on PC but not on phones?? Maybe this is inciteful? I have about 450 on my playlist.

Matt2h
Casual Listener

Shuffle is not working well. I have a playlist called "Starred" that contains my entire collection, nearly 3,000 tracks. When I shuffle that playlist these days, I seem to get a handful of tracks from about 4 artists and that's it. I think it pulls a bunch of songs that were added to the playlist around the same time into a queue and jumps around among those. Songs will repeat over and over again. It's quite frustrating. All I need is a shuffle mode that actually jumps around quite a bit. What's currently happening is some kind of lazy "skip ahead five tracks" type shuffle mode. 

jmcdzzz
Newbie

Still doesn't work. I have hundreds of songs in my playlist by as many artists. As I am writing this, I keep having to hit skip skip skip skip because it keeps playing the same four albums over and over and over.

You would think that when a thread gets to be 5 years old and is still active that Spotify would actually do something about it.

neongraffiti
Regular

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS JUST GIVE US A "FLAT RANDOM" OPTION FOR SHUFFLE - EVEN IF ITS BURIED IN THE SETTINGS!!!

 

THIS ALGORITHM IS COMPLETE JUNK AND PLAYS THE SAME 20 SONGS ON A PLAYLIST OF OVER 1000+ LITERALLY OVER AND OVER. ITS STUPID, IT DOESN'T WORK, AND YOU JUST MADE IT WORSE...

Doom2
Newbie

We definitely need a true random shuffling option, the behavior of shuffle is driving me crazy and I am thinking of ending my subscription only because of this!

pheahr
Newbie

Are you serious Spotify? I thought that the shuffle option is broken in my client or account but reading that other users have the same problem and that this so called shuffle mode is a feature makes me laugh my a** off. This is just embarassing. A true random shuffle mode could be implemented in under 10 minutes and I bet they spend hours after hours into their "shuffle" algorithm ... and it is complete b*llsh*t.

 

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD - GET. THIS. FIXED.

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