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Spotify layoffs have made it harder to discover new music on the platform

Spotify sucks at discovering new music. It’s not exactly a hot idea considering how much users have complained about it over the years, but it was much easier to forgive when alternative services like Pandora and SoundCloud could help make up for Spotify’s shortcomings. As the company’s dominance of the music streaming industry now becomes hard to ignore, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to organically find new songs and artists — especially on the Spotify platform itself.

As a Spotify Premium subscriber for nearly a decade, one of my favorite workarounds was Every Noise at Once – a website created by Spotify data alchemist Glenn McDonald that essentially served as a mapping and following directory each musical genre hosted on the platform. Until recently, clicking on one of the more than 6,000 available music genres brought up a list of artists in that genre, popular tracks in the genre, and new and undiscovered releases. That changed in December 2023, when McDonald’s became one of more than 1,500 employees affected by Spotify’s layoffs and, in doing so, lost access to the data needed to update Every Noise at Once.

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Every Noise at Once has never been an official Spotify resource. According to a recent interview with TechCrunch, McDonald created the website while working at The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company acquired by Spotify in 2013. Its genre-mapping data was eventually integrated into Spotify’s native features such as “Daily Mixes” recommendations. » and “Fans love it too”. McDonald is even responsible for naming niche genres like “escape room” that gained attention after appearing on people’s 2020 Wrapped playlists.

You can still access Every Noise at Once to browse McDonald’s massive encyclopedia of musical genres, but it now serves as a time capsule. No new artists or music can be added, and if something breaks, McDonald’s won’t be able to fix it. This means Spotify users will have to navigate directly through the streaming service to discover upcoming tracks, which is easier said than done.

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The platform has launched many different discovery features in recent years. We got Spotify Mixes in 2021, which are playlists themed around particular artists, genres, and decades featuring songs you already listen to, as well as similar tracks that Spotify thinks you’d like. Niche mixes, which follow the same process but with more original musical genres like “goblincore” and “funeral doom” that McDonald may have helped name, arrived later, in March 2023. Around the same time, Spotify DJ was introduced – another personalized playlist feature with an AI “host” that comments on what’s currently playing.

The novelty of these amused me greatly for a few weeks after they rolled out, but quickly became stale when I realized I was repeatedly getting the same recommended music through each mix, effectively building up my listening experience in a partitioned bubble. Playlists created by other users within the Spotify community are of course still an alternative option, but they’re poorly promoted compared to Spotify’s own recommendations, even when you’re manually searching for something with a specific vibe.

This has made the process of discovering new music on Spotify a complete joke, although the company redesigned its home screen last year to improve this problem, taking inspiration from TikTok’s superior platform for discovery of new artists. In a Decoder interview in March 2023, Spotify co-chairman Gustav Söderström called his relationship with TikTok “symbiotic.”

Last year, Spotify co-president Gustav Söderström said the company was working to improve music discovery.

“Most of the high-profile discoveries have happened there, but fortunately for us, up to now and still, we’re getting almost all the background hearing from that discovery. This is coming to us,” Söderström said, before adding that the company is working to improve music discovery directly through Spotify.

I certainly haven’t noticed any improvement since that interview. If anything, Spotify’s current user experience has made me more nostalgic for outdated “internet radio” services that offered more user control, like Pandora and 8tracks, which previously led me to discover artists then-emerging artists like Hozier and Billie Eilish before they even had time to discover then-emerging artists like Hozier and Billie Eilish. released his first albums. And because TikTok is now the service that introduces me to up-and-coming artists like The Last Dinner Party before they’re featured on mainstream radio stations, I’m very tempted to see if its dedicated music streaming platform can serve me well. better than Spotify. a, even with the loss of Universal Music Group’s catalog.

What Every Noise at Once provided Spotify users was simplicity: a set of core discovery features that let users explore new genres and browse new music within those genres without filtering through a deluge of algorithmic recommendations. This is a native utility that Spotify noticeably lacks, although it has the data to implement it if the company chooses. If it East something Spotify is considering introducing, so I can only hope McDonald gets the credit he sorely deserves – the constantly updated music encyclopedia he created with Every Noise at Once was truly one of the best things about Spotify, even though it was never an official part of it. of the service.

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