We knew that Discover Weekly was a hit when we saw our friends on Spotify listening to the personalized playlist in droves. Now the data keeps rolling in: Discover Weekly has streamed nearly 5 billion tracks since its launch last July. All told, 40 million Spotify listeners have used Discover Weekly. That's about three times the number of people using Apple Music and Tidal combined.
Discover Weekly isn't just a popular feature, but an engaging one. Over half of Discover Weekly listeners return to the playlist the following week and a comparable number of people stream at least 10 songs each week. Meanwhile, more than half of users are adding Discover Weekly songs to their own music collections on the service.
That’s having a trickle-down effect for emerging artists: Over 8,000 artists have had more than half of their listening come from Discover Weekly.
The surprise success comes despite minimal formal marketing for Discover Weekly on Spotify’s part. And the timing couldn’t be better: Music discovery and curation are becoming a key competitive tension in the music subscription space. Apple has invested heavily in human-crafted playlists and live radio. Luckily for Spotify, they had the foresight to acquire the Echo Nest—the music data company whose tech was used to help build new features like Discover Weekly and Fresh Finds-–in 2014.
For the unfamiliar, Discover Weekly is a playlist that automatically appears each Monday on Spotify. It analyzes your listening history, focusing on the music you've played recently. It then compares that to the behavior of a subset of active playlist creators. Scanning millions of playlists, the system finds tracks that are commonly listed alongside music with which a user is already familiar, and then groups those tracks together into a new, personalized list of songs. It essentially takes the tried-and-true "people who like that, also like this" logic of collaborative filtering and applies it to the process of making a mixtape.
The feature proved to be an immediate hit. In its first five months, Discover Weekly resulted in 1.7 billion streams, fueled by its unique blend of human and machine smarts. The numbers have only climbed north since.
Despite its popularity, Discover Weekly hasn't changed much in terms of features or design. At least, not yet. Since launch, listeners have reportedly been demanding new features, such as a Pandora-style up-voting mechanism. This and other new features, the company tells us, are coming "super soon."