When a friend told me about Discover Weekly on Spotify, I thought it was one of the better ideas of online music services. A playlist tailored to your music preferences, including songs from artists you probably don’t know? Every week? All the work of finding new music now done by a computer for you. How unbelievably convenient!
After about 5 consecutive weeks listening to my entire Discover Weekly playlists, I have realized that what was initially a revelation has turned into something between a gift and a chore. The most obvious but important benefit to the playlist is that users are introduced to new music. However, after a while I feel that this new music encompasses similar sounds and genres I have clicked on, which on one hand is the point. But now it’s as if I am listening to one band covering all my favorite artists and songs. There doesn’t seem to be any originality anymore, nothing truly “new.” Because there is no way to like or dislike Discover Weekly choices, it is very difficult to steer it in a direction where you want to discover new things.
I have become robotic in my reliance on the playlist. There are no artist bios, no information about the songs. It is abundance that I believe takes away from the pure joy of discovering and listening to music. Part of my excitement with new music is taking the time to find it, to google the band, read interviews, and see if they’re touring. Of course, you can do all these things when you find a song you like on your Discover Weekly, but it’s almost too easy now.
It seems too easy on the part of the computer as well. I have heard many describe Discover Weekly as “hit or miss,” which I think refers to the feeling that the playlists follow an algorithm that often too obviously follows previous listens, forming these duplicate cover-band sounds I mentioned. Spotify needs to incorporate more user feedback to achieve what I believe they were setting out to do.
But maybe I’m wrong. After all, Spotify is made for the laziest listener—let’s face it. We can type and listen to whatever we want, whenever we want. No information about the artist and thus little reading required. Just pandering to our need for quick blips of new material. Maybe Discover Weekly plays right into Spotify’s image.
I’m realizing that I need to supplement my music discovery process with old methods like reading music news, researching who bands I already like have been influenced by, talking to friends and musicians, and checking out new “Tiny Desk Concerts.” Discover Weekly has its place in my never-ending search for new music, but I can’t rely on it anymore. I can’t stand the idea of being hand-fed my new favorite band by a computer.
I know that was a little harsh…just to reiterate that Discover Weekly is overall a positive music service, here is a short list of great songs and artists that I likely would not have heard without it.