If you’re a genre aficionado of any kind of music, you’ll likely be well acquainted with the popular Spotify playlists within that genre. Rap fans are already plugged in to the likes of Rap Caviar, Who We Be and Rap Workout, while indieheads know their Lorem for their Indie List. If this is the case, you might have spotted several playlists with similar names on Spotify - but what links playlists like ‘The Edge of Hip Hop’ and ‘The Pulse of Americana’?
The answer is that they are both created by Particle Detector, a unique Spotify user which isn’t really a user at all: It’s an algorithm. The exact details of how the algorithm chooses tracks is not publicly known, but we do know that Spotify claim that these playlists feature music fans of a given genre are listening to ‘at the moment’. Spotify gathers information about artists that fans of, say, hip-hop are listening to and compiles them into a playlist, which explains the mixture of established and up-and-coming names in these playlists.
The ‘at the moment’ part is important, too, as it explains why Particle Detector playlists are updated so frequently. New tracks are added to the playlist 3 to 4 times a week, meaning hundreds of new tracks within a genre are flagged each month as being on Spotify’s radar. Often tracks that feature in these playlists will be added to the much bigger playlists soon after, as there is evidence that fans of a particular genre are already engaging with them.