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How Spotify’s Algorithm Works (From Its Creator)

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Glenn McDonald on The New Music Business Podcast

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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How Spotify's Algorithm Works (From Its Creator)

Listen on your favorite podcast platform: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Acast

Glenn McDonald was Spotify’s data alchemist and the creator of the music exploration site Every Noise at Once. He writes things for people about how humanity and technology co-exist, and things for computers about how to cope with not being human. He wrote a weekly music review column called The War Against Silence for ten years, tabulated the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop music critics’ poll for several years, and was part of the music-intelligence start-up The Echo Nest, which was eventually acquired by Spotify.

He believes that music is the thing humans do best, and that bringing all the world’s music together online is one of the greatest cultural achievements of his lifetime. His book explaining why is being published by Canbury Press in 2024.

This week, Ari and Glenn McDonald discuss his role as a data alchemist and his work on the Every Noise at Once genre map. McDonald shares insights into the creation and maintenance of the Every Noise genre map, which categorizes over 6,000 genres and subgenres. He also discusses the evolution of Spotify playlists, from editorial to personalized, and the impact of algorithmic programming. They explore the impact of algorithmic recommendations on artists and fans, as well as the challenges of detecting fraud and bot attacks.

Chapters
00:00 Introduction and Background
08:30 Creating the Every Noise Genre Map
19:54 Personalized Playlists and Algorithmic Programming
32:25 Fans Also Like and its Evolution
37:06 The Challenges of Algorithmic Recommendations
41:30 The Limitations of Detecting Fraud
47:56 The Mystery of Sudden Streaming Spikes
01:00:19 Glenn McDonald’s Book and Future Plans

Edited and mixed by Ari Davids-Ergas
Music by Brassroots District
Produced by the team at Ari’s Take

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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