Intelligent Machines

Spotify Taps Hannibal Burress to Create Playlists

Spotify relies heavily on algorithms to offer its listeners interesting music. Today the company decided to see what happens when a human comedian gives it a try.

It’s interesting to see that Spotify has tapped the comedian Hannibal Buress to create interesting playlists combined with colorful commentary, as part of its In Residence show.

Last year, we looked at how Spotify, Apple, and others generate their playlists. With millions of songs now instantly available for streaming, the only way for companies to distinguish their services is to offer clever, compelling music recommendations to users. And while Apple Music launched with big name DJs and musicians providing playlists, Spotify has in the past focused more heavily on personalizing music by mining users’ behavior, and cross-referencing the habits of like-minded music fans.

These music selection algorithms are ingenious, and they can help you discover some amazing stuff (I’m personally a big fan of Discover Weekly, which auto-generates a list of songs you haven’t heard, and will probably like, once a week). However, there’s really no match for the human touch when it comes to putting together a creative playlist.

Anyway, I think Buress’s comedic commentary highlights this nicely. Previous hosts of the Spotify show have mostly been musicians, but it’s actually pretty cool to hear selections and banter from a music fan. You can judge for yourself by listening here. Be warned, though, the language isn’t exactly PG-rated.

(Sources: Fader, Billboard, Quartz)

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