The music tech that knows what you want before you do

Personalising your music streaming experience is no longer limited to building your own playlists. 

Just as the ‘internet of things’ picks up momentum and finds its way into our homes and lives, another phenomenon is growing alongside it.

The ‘internet of me’ sees us engage in a more personalised exchange with technology, where it uses the information we make available to customise and improve our experience.

One of the best examples of this today, and one you may even be enjoying without knowing, is the personalisation of music streaming services.

We’ve all got at least one likeminded friend who will successfully introduce you to a new artist because ‘it sounds like your thing’.

Innovative music streaming services, like Spotify and Pandora (among others), have found ways to be ‘that friend’ for us all.

Pandora

Image courtesy: Pandora

Pandora is one of the original big players in streaming internet radio; just pop the name of your favourite song, artist, or genre into Pandora and it will put you on a path of exploration.

This has been available since 2000 when the service began its ‘Music Genome Project’.

A team of musician-analysts listen to one song at a time and make an incredibly detailed assessment of the track, including melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, and lyrics, so that the algorithm can find songs with music similarities to your choice.

In late 2015, Pandora launched Thumbprint Radio, which it calls "a hyper-personalised station for each listener."

When you hear a song on Pandora there’s an opportunity to give it a ‘thumbs up’, or a like.

The Thumbprint Radio is based on every thumbs up you have ever given on Pandora; this station will continue to evolve as long as you thumb up tracks.  

Spotify

Image courtesy: Spotify

Spotify is one of the giants of music streaming, but it’s also figured out how to use masses of dry-seeming data to build playlists that truly feel like they’ve been created by someone who knows you intimately.

Each Monday, users are provided a brand new mix tape from Spotify’s unique service, Discover Weekly, and this certainly isn’t your average ‘you might be interested in’ offering.

In simple terms, the groundwork in building Discover Weekly playlists relies on other users.

Spotify starts its search for your perfect playlist by looking at the millions of playlists created by users, which reflect their tastes and sensibilities.

Then the system tries to fill in the blanks between what you and other, similar users like.

From this groundwork, Spotify uses a profile of your individualised taste in music to join the dots and include new songs that fit your habits.

Another clever way that Spotify is using tech is through the Running feature, available on iOS and Android.

This section of the app creates jogging playlists according to your tempo, with tracks either from a genre or mood you select, or some specially-created Running playlists, designed to keep you going.

Apple Music

Image courtesy: Apple

The launch of Apple Music in 2015 saw the inception of Apple’s first online music streaming service following the company’s success with renowned music library and store, iTunes.

Discovering new tunes and artists is made simple with the apps “For You” section.

After answering a few basic questions based on genre preferences and artists you enjoy, Apple Music then curates playlists and makes recommendations designed just for you.

According to Apple, they use real people instead of algorithms to determine music that suits your taste.

In addition to streaming, Apple Music also offers users access to live global broadcasting, on-demand radio stations and the ability to connect with artists and exclusive content.  

Deezer

Image courtesy: Deezer

When it comes to music personalisation, Deezer music streaming takes the hard work out of trawling through playlists and albums to decide what to listen to next.

With two different customisation options available, the streaming service has a strong focus on uncovering tailored music for each individual user with the click of a button.

Deezer’s ‘Flow’ feature builds an instant and tailored radio channel based on your current music library, and what you’ve recently been listening to.

Deezer continually learns more about each users tastes, with the ability to let the app know if you love or hate a suggested song.

In fact, the more you listen, the more Deezer becomes familiar with your music preferences, so one can expect better recommendations every time.

The streaming service also includes a ‘Hear This’ function, which offers recommendations and personalised suggestions on a daily basis, making it easier than ever to uncover hidden gems.

Music curation is just the beginning 

Looking to the future, as the ‘internet of things’ continues to flourish, so will the ‘internet of me’.

Using the wide range of sensors we add to our homes, bodies and vehicles, in combination with the information we provide to services, our personalised music playlists will be just the tip of the iceberg.