With Daily Mix, Spotify taps algorithms to make infinite playlists from your favorite tunes

Are you a Spotify user who has a list of favorite bands and songs, but do not have the motivation to find and organize all of them into useful playlists? Today, the streaming company is launching a new service called Daily Mix that is partly aimed at you. Tapping into your own history of albums and tracks that you have listened to on the platform, Daily Mix brings together a selection of these alongside a few new things to create long, “bottomless” playlists of music to keep you listening. As its name implies, the playlists change every day, and range in number between one and six, depending on how prolific you are on Spotify.

dailymix-deviceDaily Mix is rolling out globally across all of Spotify’s footprint today to all users, first on Spotify’s Android and iOS apps, where it will sit prominently at the top of your Library menu. Matthew Ogle, the product manager overseeing it, says that Spotify is working on porting it to other platforms like web and desktop, too.

Spotify has built in a lot of playlist facility over the years to drive more listening on its platform. That includes the playlists you’ve created yourself; playlists created by other users; Discover Weekly curated by Spotify’s team; and Spotify Radio, which technically is not a playlist but is one more way of listening to music on the platform based around a theme without having to proactively pick everything out yourself each time.

(In fact, the team that built Radio built Daily Mix. “Internally we were referring it to as personal radio,” Ogle told me.)

Many of these are more about discovery and recommendation, while Daily Mix plays more on what is already familiar to you.

Playlists generally are big business for the company. Spotify does not share many stats about how much they are used, but Ogle points out that Discover Weekly has been used at some point by more than 40 million of Spotify’s 100 million users.

And as Spotify continues to grow and bring in more casual music fans, playlists become an increasingly essential part of the mix to keep the service from being too labor intensive to use (the classic problem: I can listen to anything, but can’t decide or think of what I want.)

“When we started we were just a search box and millions of tracks, and today the most engaged users are the people who maintain and built and keep their playlists up to date,” Ogle told me. “But as we grow we attract music lovers who don’t want to put that effort in and do that day to day, so we hope that this will bring that kind of engagement to them.”

Although the Daily Mix is in part there to make casual or newer Spotify users feel a little more at home, there are a few quirks with the service that run counter to that. For starters if you have listened to nothing at all on the platform, for now you cannot get a Daily Mix (since it is based on your listening history).

For now, if you are a new user you will see a message saying something along the lines of: “Play your favorites and come back soon to find your Daily Mix.” Ogle tells me they are currently “looking of ways to get people into the experience more quickly.” For now it could take about two weeks for your first Daily Mix to come through — which may be one reason they’re putting it so high up in your library.

The algorithms that run this date back to Spotify’s acquisition of The Echo Nest in 2014. The startup’s music tech, which helps with recommendations of “lookalike” music, is regularly used in a lot of internal experiments around what Spotify might roll out next, and has also made its way to a number of products, such as Fresh Finds.

Ogle tells me that right now the proportion of your own favorite tracks to those you might not know is 75%/25% — a balance that they might change over time, depending on how people are responding. With the new feature, Spotify is also introducing something else: new buttons that will help inform Spotify of what you do and don’t like: a heart to add it to your own collection, and a “ban” to banish it.

Ogle said that his team are looking of places to add these into other parts of the Spotify app.

Engagement is a crucial metric for Spotify: the company earlier this month revealed that it now has 40 million paying users, which appears to indicate that it currently growing faster than Apple Music (respectively they gained 10 million and 4 million over a five-month period).

We’ve heard from sources that Spotify — which has raised over $1.5 billion in funding to date — is aiming for an IPO filing by the end of this year, with a listing in 2017. (Caveat: we’ve been hearing talk of a Spotify IPO for years now.) In any case, strong engagement metrics, showing consumers who are not only dipping into the service but using it every day, point to a dedicated audience that will be less likely to disappear over time, and if they are ‘free’ users, might tip into paying users in the process.