I’m Writing My Vows to Spotify’s Discover Weekly Algorithm

Spotify has me f^cked up. I’m walking across my apartment, folded laundry in hand – typical Tuesday. Then something stops me in my tracks. MGMT’s “Hand it Over” comes through my speakers and dominates the airspace. Tears well in my eyes and I think, “Goddammit, Spotify. I love you.”

Now, I’ve loved MGMT since Oracular Spectacular, but I had no idea a 2018 album had dropped. I had almost forgotten how their synthy psychedelic rock sound had the power to transport me to a thousand lives I never lived (dramatic, right?), until Spotify slipped that single into my Discover Weekly playlist. And this isn’t the first time Spotify has knocked it out of the park. The Discover Weekly Playlist has turned me on to some of my favorite new bands, like Ratatat, Chicano Batman, and artists like Anderson .Paak . Just wow.

The MAYA Principle

Spotify’s algorithm has nailed the ingredient for all things cool: The MAYA Principle. This stands for “Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable.” It is the bliss point of new and familiar, and it’s what makes the Discover Weekly playlist a total honeypot.

So how does Spotify find you new shit that still feels familiar? Well, it relies on playlists. Yours, and everyone else’s. Spotify develops a taste profile for you according to your saved songs, playlists, playlists you follow, and people with similar music taste to you. With that (and a little more magic), Spotify delivers a personal 30-song playlist straight to the dome.

I have to admit, maybe not every week’s playlist is an absolute emotionally transcendent experience, but that’s okay. It gives me a chance to discover artists I probably wouldn’t have discovered in the mainstream media. And I can give input just by skipping a song within the first 30 seconds. It’s cool, consistent, and a good listener… Spotify, are you single?