The last few years have been revolutionary for the music industry, with some significant changes happening to the digital streaming services. Google launched YouTube Music. Tidal was re-invented by Jay-Z, Apple unveiled Apple Music, and Spotify acquired Echo Nest to provide new ways of discovering music. It was Spotify’s way of competing with Apple Music and its curated playlist which was handpicked by experts around the world. Spotify kept the competition up by launching Discover Weekly, another music discovery feature which personalized playlists for Spotify users last year. In a follow-up to Discover Weekly, Spotify has launched Release Radar, a feature which tracks newly released music from various artists and creates a personalized playlist based on the current listening habits of the user.
Spotify is clearly winning the music discovery game, as their Discovery Weekly feature garnered over 40 million users and 5 billion song plays since its launch in July 2015. Discover Weekly creates a new playlist every Monday for each user, analyzing the listening habit and music history of the user for the past six months, and using algorithms and deep learning to suggest new music to the user. Release Radar works quite differently from this. It works every Friday, creating a two-hour playlist for the user. But instead of analyzing six months’ worth of data, it makes use of the entire history and then identifies genres and artists, suggesting new music based on that data.
As Spotify’s engineering manager in-charge of Release Radar notes, it’s harder to provide accurate recommendations with the new service. This is because artists hardly release more than two albums a year, and new works have significantly fewer data but play-count and downloads are available. The formula making Discover Weekly successful will not work for Release Radar because it is brand new music which may not have been categorized yet. Thus deep-learning comes to play, managing the audio itself instead of data from users.
Spotify is competing in a market filled with major services like Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube Music, Pandora, and SoundCloud. Each of these companies has their strategies to capture the market. While Apple Music is leaning towards offering exclusive content and radio with famous DJs, Spotify is taking a different approach, with more focus on what the user is listening to, rather than the content available on their service.