Has Spotify Perfected the Playlist?

Curated playlists are increasingly important when it comes to spreading the word on new songs, artists, albums, scenes and sounds. And Spotify seems to have figured it out.  Bloomberg (via Mashable) takes a look at how the company does it.

Until recently, Mike Perry assembled engines at a Volvo plant in Skovde, a medieval city in Sweden. But Perry wanted to be a famous DJ. At night he labored in a recording studio, writing and producing songs in a lush, throbbing style known as tropical house. It sounds like Jimmy Cliff was tweaked by Avicii, the electronic dance musician.

Perry was 30 and hadn’t had a breakthrough, so it looked as if he’d be on the assembly line for years. Then, in April, he released a track called The Ocean, a bit of escapist pop. It wasn’t long before he noticed the Spotify link to his song all over social media. The Ocean became so popular on the streaming service that Perry quit his job and spent the summer performing in Europe. Now he has almost 15.5 million monthly Spotify listeners, a number he still finds inconceivable. “It’s just opened so many doors,” he says.

At a certain point, Spotify contacted Perry’s music manager to explain how the service had transformed his client from autoworker to house music luminary in months. It was simple: It had a lot to do with Spotify’s music-recommendation technology. The company keeps track of what you listen to. Then it uses algorithms to see which other playlists contain the same songs—and other songs that are on those lists but not on yours. Then it feeds you those new cuts in a personalized playlist, Discover Weekly, which is refreshed every Monday. Once The Ocean began showing up in Discover Weekly, Perry’s days at Volvo were numbered.

Volvo? What? Keep reading

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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