I’m generally not a big pre-made playlist listener, with one big exception: Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist. Discover Weekly is a custom-made thirty-song playlist that Spotify magically generates for every user on every Monday. It’s astonishing how good the curation is in this playlist; and that opinion is not just my own - it seems like everyone I talk to would agree.
One night while on a long drive, Jess and I started theorizing on how Spotify might generate the Discover Weekly playlists. I wagered that a combination of ‘taste-makers’ work along with an AI to generate the playlists. Jess theorized that it was all AI and that even an army of taste-makers would not be enough to guide the hand of AI when you consider the sheer number of genres, sub-genres, and users.
The information on how Discover Weekly actually works under the hood is limited. But, from what I’ve heard, Jess is closer to the right answer. From what I’ve seen, Spotify gets the secret sauce for Discover Weekly by tapping into user-generated playlists that subscribers have made For their own listening. Using those user-created playlists, Spotify can tap into the human element of music curation and make connections between songs you’ve liked in the past and songs you’ve never heard but may also like.
Despite what I wrote in the opening sentence of this post, I’ve been slowly branching out to listen to premade (i.e., curated) playlists. Unlike Discover Weekly, these playlists are not custom tailored for each user. I’ve been liking ‘Cafe con Leche’, which is a mostly acoustic Spanish-language playlist that I’ve found to be refreshingly soothing for morning shower listening. I also like the ‘Lush Lofi’ station for driving and doing work. This is mostly instrumental lofi hip-hop beats, very aesthetically pleasing and great for focus.