Good grief music is exhausting these days, isn’t it?
Gone are the days of your selection being limited to whatever was in the racks at Woolies or Our Price - and limited by the amount of wedge in your pocket - or by how many C-90s you had to tape off the wireless. No, now you can basically listen to any piece of music ever recorded, ever, at the click of a button, while it’s never been easier for any old Joey off the street to release their stuff, thus clogging up the tunepool even more.
But how on earth are you supposed to actually find the good stuff without wading through a whole load of rubbish first?
Well, one of the most popular ways is via Spotify’s excellent Discover Weekly playlist: a playlist, updated weekly (see what they did with the name there) which uses clever algorithms to provide 30 new tracks for you, personally, to discover (see what they did with the name there), which it thinks you will dig. Every single user gets a different experience, and it’s one of Spotify’s main calling cards.
Most of the time it really does get it right - but there’s always those annoying few tracks that, for some reason, have managed to sneak in. No, Spotify, I do not want to listen to a Sam Smith deep cut thank you very much.
However, help is at hand, because there are tricks you can utilise to help Discover Weekly get it (more) right - it’s just an algorithm guys, it needs love, guidance and attention just like everyone else does.
Back in 2015, Spotify’s Discover Weekly team gave Quartz a series of tips on how to improve your Discover Weekly and the good news is that they all still work. So without further ado:
1. Skip past songs you don’t like
Skipping a song before it reaches 30 seconds is the ultimate red flag for Spotify, sending a signal that you actively dislike the song (it also gives you the satisfaction of knowing that the artist hasn’t received their 0.000001p for your play, since they only get that after you pass the 30-second barrier). Therefore stuff you skip - and songs related to it - will be less likely to appear in your Discover Weekly. So try not to listen passively but actively move past stuff that isn’t floating your boat when you come across it.
However, a word of warning - this can work against you if, for example, you keep a playlist of your favourite songs but end up skipping a lot of them, as it’ll be telling Spotify you don’t like them when, in fact, you really do.
2. Play new genres for a good amount of time
If, while mining the coalface of new music, you suddenly discover a rich new seam, do what any self-respecting miner would do: keep digging.
If you only get into Norwegian Black Metal for a day, Spotify will (quite cleverly) assume that someone might be borrowing your account, or using the same computer, and disregard it when compiling your Discover Weekly. Ensure plenty more Mayhem in your playlists and stick it on for a good few days at least.
3. Put stuff you actually like into playlists
The polar opposite of the ‘skip’ function, the strongest signal to Spotify (other than, y’know, actually playing a song) that you actually like a track is that you’ve bothered to playlist it. Therefore, don’t abuse your playlists by putting ‘ironic’ listens, or ‘music to try out’ playlists. Admittedly, the latter is quite annoying, seeing as this is a very useful way of saving tracks you want to hear for later, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices in this life people.
4. Don’t worry about stuff like kids music
Concerned that your toddler’s constant requests to hear ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ are going to mess up your Discover Weekly recommendations? Fear not, because Spotify is smart enough to know when you’re listening to an ‘outlier’, and ignore it. So don’t worry about kids music, Christmas music (it will assume you have no interest in this post-December) and other novelty stuff.
Also, don’t worry about the effects of playing Discover Weekly itself - Spotify ignores these plays, so if you give something a try out all the way through and only decide you don’t like it at the end, it won’t have registered this as a thumbs up. The same goes for stuff you listen to on a Private Session.
5. Go down the artist rabbithole
If you click through on an artist from Discover Weekly - or anywhere else for that matter - and start properly digging into their back catalogue, then Spotify will take note and recommend you more stuff from that artist, and ones similar to them. Obvious, we guess, but worth pointing out.
(Image: Jakob Braun)