How The Spotify Algorithm Works – A Deep Insight

Spotify is great at recognising their users’ music taste down a tee and suggesting artists they’d love. But the big question is, how do you make sure YOUR music is picked up by Spotify’s clever algorithm and put in front of potential fans?

We’re about to take a dive into everything we know about Spotify’s algorithm and the ways artists can leverage it to reach the right listeners. 

Let’s get a little bit technical…

Spotify’s algorithm is an AI system known as BART (an abbreviation of Bandits for Recommendations as Treatments).

Basically, BART’s job is to keep listeners listening. 

It does this by playing and suggesting songs it knows the user is familiar with, while dropping in some fresh tracks it thinks they might like, but most importantly, haven’t heard before.

This makes sure the listener is engaged, but things never get boring.

BART decides what to suggest to listeners using three main functions:

Natural Language Processing
Analyses the language, lyrics and content of a song.

Raw Audio Analyzation
Detects the “vibe” or “mood” of a song’s audio and decides whether it’s upbeat, chill, heavy, minimal, instrumental etc… 

Collaborative Filtering
Compares new songs to a listener’s current habits to decide what will suit their tastes.

Ok so that’s the tech behind Spotify algorithm in simple terms. 

But how can artists, bands & labels plan their releases to make the algorithm work in their favour and reach more listeners?

We’ll go through some main ways it decides which tracks are suggested to fans through algorithmic playlists, daily mixes and other suggestions.

1. It’s all about the stats 

Just like other social media platforms, Spotify’s algorithm is driven by statistics. The platform is constantly watching how its hundreds of millions of users engage with different types of music in order to feed them more of what they like.

Spotify is always watching – and learning!

The algorithm takes loads of stats into account when deciding which songs to suggest to its users.

Important stats for Spotify’s algorithm include:

– Listening history (mood, style, genre)

– Skip rate (less skips = more recommendations)

– Listening time (getting past 30 seconds is key)

– Playlist features (inclusions across all personal, indie & official playlists)

2. The 30 second Spotify-friendly rule

The first 30 seconds of a track matter to Spotify more than anything else.

If a listener gets past the 30 second mark of your track – that’s a positive bit of data. Plus, that’s the point at which a stream is monetized.

Making a track “Spotify-friendly” specifically to please the algorithm is a debated topic. Do you compromise your creative vision for the chance of hitting more playlists? In the end it’s up to you.

But if you’re trying to make the algorithm work in your favour, think carefully about the first 30 seconds of your song. Make sure it grabs the listener immediately to keep your skip rate low. 

You might want to rethink that 31 second slow piano intro for your first few releases (unless you’re targeting slow piano playlists!).

3. Timing can make the difference

First 12 to 24 hours after your release drops are key. Spikes in listeners, low skip rates and listening times matter most in the day/days straight after release.

So you can see why timing is key. Create hype in the build up to your release. Get your fans excited enough in the run-up so they all listen to and save your track on day one.

Don’t forget to watch the competition too. If a big artist is set to drop a track that all your fans will be listening to, try to avoid that release date.

It’s also generally accepted that releasing new music on a Friday is best. It gives you a better chance of landing on one of the influential New Music Friday playlists.

4. Spotify is social media in disguise

You might not think of Spotify as a social media, but in reality that’s exactly what it is!

It connects artists with fans and uses huge quantities of user data to keep giving listeners exactly what they want.

Spotify is just a piece of the social puzzle. Every other social platform plugs into the bigger picture, so when your track drops, make sure to point all your links at Spotify. 

The algorithm loves it when you bring users in from a different social platform.

Spotify algorithm picks up on streaming spikes, fan engagement and playlist adds across hundreds of millions of tracks. 

If you want it to notice your music, you need to implement a Spotify strategy again and again, create hype in the run up to release and build momentum.

Momentum is so important. Playlists additions and organic recommendations can snowball into the traction you need!

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