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[All Platforms] Shuffle algorithm that favours "unpopular" songs

As a paying Spotify premium customer, I need a shuffle algorithm different from the current, non-random shuffle that seems to favor "popular" songs, as has been pointed out by other customers who experimented with what is actually happening (see links to other posts below).

Currently there are only two possible ways to listen to music in playlists, either in the listed order, or shuffled by an algorithm that makes listeners miss out on about 20% to 30% of the songs in the list, favoring the ones that we already listened to hundreds or thousands of times.

I want to be able to choose another algorithm that does exactly the opposite: play songs in a pseudo-random order but leaving out the ones that already have been played frequently, and instead focusing on songs seldom listened to, in order to make me rediscover new songs and inspirations! This is even more important when listening to playlists made by other people, to help me discover new music.

The new algorithm could be called something like "serendipity shuffle" or "discover mode". This could be an option to activate in the user's settings, so the existing popularity shuffle would stay the default option.

In case a serendipity shuffle is too hard for you to implement, a simple randomized shuffle function would also be much better than the current one. This has already been pointed out in other posts in this forum.

See other posts in this community:


Updated on 2020-03-23

Hi everyone, we like the idea, but we don't have any immediate plans to implement this.




First time commenting  but I have been using Spotify since 2013. Came to these forums to see if there was a way to fix the fact that shuffle is not a real shuffle but rather plays your most played songs which ends up being a case of confirmation bias. The algorithm thinks I really like these songs so it plays them more frequently but it thinks I like these songs more than others because IT plays them all the damn time. 

I have one main playlist with over 1000 songs and my other playlists have hundreds of songs. This is so frustrating, and to see that that users have been complaining about this issue as far back as 2012, is so embarrassing.

I know programming is hard, but it does not take 10 years to get shuffle to work the way users want it to. Especially paying customers.

My main asks, which seem to be the same as others had since 2012, are as follows:

  • Shuffle should be a true shuffle that plays songs at random and does not repeat songs.
  • If that cannot be done then Premium users should get an extra shuffle option that prioritizes songs that do not get played often or get played the least in a playlist before continuing to more popular songs.
    • After all, I put those songs in the damn playlist. I want to hear them.




This is a good read if you are interested in this topic.


If you look on engineering pages of Spotify you can find Oskar Stål, head of personalisation, explaining how Spotify are driving personalisation with machine learning and artificial intelligence. 


The AI knows what will make me happy better that I do. Quote from the site.


We aren’t just looking for our users’ instant gratification, though. We want to provide listeners with a lifetime of great audio experiences and be with them on every step of that journey. And that brings us to what we’re working on now.


I like the aim. I can see the value of trying to introduce new contents so I don't get board of the same old thing. 


But, if I put 500 songs in a list and you play me the same ones every time I listen to the list, well, how is that a great audio experience? Unless the idea is to get me to stop listening to the list I don't see the logic?


Now, I know you could code this in a couple of weeks. What is the real reason for not doing it.  Are you so convinced in the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence that forum suggestions are just white noise? 


Should Oskar Stål  not be made aware of this before he goes off singing the virtues of Spotify's ML algorithm at his next conference. Perhaps he is not even aware of this request that users have been making for years.


Looks like he is on twitter.










@Tyler13s I remember iTunes had playcount tracking well over 10 years ago (maybe even 20 at this point). There's absolutely no excuse for it not to have been added at this point, especially since they've been able to show the popularity of the songs on an album (ie they track how much they're played vs the other songs on the album)


I know I posted a very convoluted system, but it could be as simple as giving a preference towards songs with lower play counts and the shuffle algorithm would magically start playing songs that don't get played as much for whatever reason


The algorithm is still broken in August 2022.


You know, it wouldn't be so much of an issue if the app didn't restart the playlist/reshuffle the queue every time I connected to a new output source (not sure if this is actually a "feature" or a bug I've been experiencing that deserves its own post) or decided to switch to a new playlist. Maybe it could be as simple as keeping a record of where we were in the playlist and upon playing it again the app could ask "would you like to resume where you left off?". I know this is possible because VLC media player always asks me that question whenever I play something, close the program before it ends, then come back and play that file again (don't ask why, but this is a common scenario)



Interesting insight-- Thanks!




I'm of the opinion that 'shuffle' should just randomize the order of the songs in the playlist and not repeat any songs until all of them have been played. So many times I have to turn off the shuffle b/c I get tired of hearing the same 50-60 songs on a playlist of over 1700 songs...that's a little ridiculous imo


Opravte prosím mixážní stopy. Byl jsem tak šťastný, že už nemusím stahovat MP3 a používat tuto službu, ale jsem zklamaný, že nemohu poslouchat svou hudbu zamíchanou. UDĚLEJTE S TÍM NĚCO, PROSÍM!!!!!!


The shuffle buttom si broken