The online streaming service Spotify has over 140 million active users and is constantly implementing new features to keep its users coming back for more.
One of its more well-known features, Discover Weekly, is a playlist curated every seven days using a two-part algorithm.
In an interview with WIRED, Edward Newett, a software engineer who created the algorithm, said the factored data comes from users’ playlists and which artists they follow and songs they listen to.
On campus, students’ experiences with Discover Weekly vary by week.
“Whenever I run out of music or I’m bored with everything I’m currently listening to I just bop on over to Discover Weekly and press shuffle,” said sophomore government and politics and journalism major Meghan Thompson.
Other users aren’t as enthusiastic about the feature, but its merits are undeniable.
“I used to use [Discover Weekly] every week because it’s freaky accurate at finding new songs that I like,” said junior studio art major Charlie Hatcher, who occasionally uses the feature. “Now I’m just lazy.”
In my experience, each playlist comes with some hits and misses — while unboxing my most recent Discover Weekly, I determined the two best and worst tracks and tried to figure out why they were delivered to me in the first place.
The first thing I noticed was the many familiar artists on my playlist this week — Grouplove, Hiatus Kaiyote, LANY and Cage The Elephant to name a few. Recognizing artists is always a good sign to me because I know there are at least a few tracks I’ll enjoy.
My second-favorite song from the week was “Empty” by Kevin Abstract — an artist I had been meaning to listen to but had never gotten around to. This track was probably a product of some short-term listening habits of mine, as I’ve been on a Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator kick this past week, but don’t regularly listen to similar Rap/R&B.
My favorite track was “Marathon Man” by Bear Hands. The first time I heard Bear Hands was on a Discover Weekly playlist a few years ago, but I forgot about them somewhere along the way. Most of my playlists and my long-term listening habits are centered around indie-pop music like “Marathon Man,” so Spotify definitely hit the mark here.
“Empty” and “Marathon Man” are examples of how Discover Weekly both pushes the bounds of listeners’ music tastes and expertly fits new songs from the genres they actively engage with.
This doesn’t mean the feature is perfect, though, as sometimes it can be repetitive or lack diversity.
“Sometimes my Discover Weekly only sticks to one or two genres, understandable based on my listening habits, but I would love for a little more variety,” Thompson said.
My playlist this week consists mainly of indie-pop and R&B but typically some pop-punk and rock music are mixed in as well.
The two tracks I liked the least this week were “New Goddess” by Supa Bwe and “Kiwi, Strawberry & Mango” by Like. Although they didn’t match my taste, I understand why they were selected for me.
Both rap tracks, “New Goddess” and “Kiwi, Strawberry & Mango” had elements I would typically enjoy like profound beats and witty rhymes, but the lyrical content and rapping styles of the artists didn’t stick.
Though Spotify’s Discover features are far from perfect and don’t work for everyone, you never know when a carefully crafted algorithm might bring you your new favorite song or artist.
“My favorite song at the moment is probably “Brazil” by Declan McKenna and I found that through Discover Weekly,” Thompson said. “My favorite band over the summer was Odesza and I owe that to Discover Weekly as well.”