Spotify launches Fresh Finds playlists of upcoming hits

Spotify Playlist

Music-streaming service Spotify is letting its recommendation algorithms loose again with six new-music playlists that will be updated once a week.

Under the brand of Fresh Finds, the playlists will be constructed from an analysis of music blogs, news sites and the songs being listened to by “tastemakers” on Spotify.

The main Fresh Finds playlist will sit alongside genre-specific playlists for hip-hop (Fire Emoji), electronic music (Basement), vocal pop (Hiptronix), guitar-driven rock (Six Strings) and experimental music (Cyclone).

All six will be refreshed every Wednesday. They follow the debut in July 2015 of Discover Weekly, a personalised playlist for every Spotify user based on their listening habits, which is updated every Monday.

Discover Weekly has been a hit: it generated more than 1bn streams in its first 10 weeks – a total that rose to 1.7bn by the end of 2015.

The main Fresh Finds playlist launched quietly alongside Discover Weekly, but its official launch – plus the five genre-specific playlists – marks its first promotion by Spotify.

For Spotify, the new playlists tie in to its wider pitch to the music industry: that it can help emerging artists build their audiences on the streaming service.

“Spotify has always focused on artists and listeners, and with Fresh Finds we’re specifically looking at new creators, digging deeper to understand how undiscovered artists can attract a huge fan base,” said Brian Whitman, principal scientist at Spotify.

“By analysing the listening behaviour of our top tastemaker users, we’re able to predict new breakout artists and filter their hits-to-be into playlists with the most promising new music out there.”

The sight of Spotify doubling down on “automated curation” might seem to offer a contrast to one of its main rivals, Apple Music, whose head Jimmy Iovine has regularly stressed its emphasis on human playlisters, and criticised rivals as mere “utilities”.

The truth is far more nuanced. Spotify has its own team of human curators, too: its editorially driven playlists, such as New Music Friday and Afternoon Acoustic, have growing clout in bringing new artists and songs to global attention.

Meanwhile, algorithms play a significant role in Apple’s service, too: its For You feature recommends playlists and albums based on people’s listening habits. Both Spotify, Apple and their rivals are betting on a combination of humans and algorithms, rather than choosing between the two.

“It’s really seductive to talk about humans versus robots, but it’s a big myth that this is how the world works. It doesn’t really describe how we work at Spotify today, or how any company doing tech at scale works today,” said Discover Weekly inventor Matt Ogle in a talk at the Web Summit conference in December.

“It’s a false fright: this doesn’t even exist. With Discover Weekly, we realised that we needed an algorithm that makes playlists like a human.”

Fresh Finds continues that line of thinking, in a music-streaming battle that Spotify hopes will be as much about smart technology and recommendations as it is about exclusive deals with artists and heavy marketing – areas where it risks being outgunned by Apple.

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Powered by article was written by Stuart Dredge, for on Wednesday 2nd March 2016 14.00 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010