Spotify’s Algorithm Learns How to Listen

Words: Thomas-Bradey Riseley

Spotify’s ever-growing algorithm is soon going to sit down and listen, in the worst possible way. As if their 1’s and 0’s weren’t already scarily accurate with their suggestions by monitoring our listening patterns, they are now going to be using speech recognition to enhance the user experience.

In January 2021, Spotify was granted a patent for new personality tracking technology, something they had been waiting approval on since the application was filed in February 2018. The filing stated that demographics and their favourite type of music can be considered to “correspond to different personality traits” of each user. Its worth noting that they already had this information, your location and address and what you listen to already is contributed to the algorithm. Spotify has defended its new tech insinuating that it could promote even more personalised content to the user (mainly advertising content) but with their monopoly-esque acquisition of podcast content in 2020 they could be looking to strongly promote that rather than just music and advertisements. They already provide personalised promotion of podcasts with their ‘On Record’ playlist which highlights podcasts based of users ‘Wrapped’ portfolio. 

Credit: The Verge

Details published in the US patent state that it wants to go even further than it already is in terms of mining user information. It will use speech recognition to establish user’s “emotional state, gender, age or accent” which can then be used to recommend content. One can only imagine that the longer this pandemic goes on for that the world will be forced to enjoy more Radiohead. 

The filing states that collecting “intonation, stress, rhythm and the likes of units of speech” merged with “acoustic information within a hidden Markov model architecture” so the app can catalogue and determine user’s emotional state. The new feature will listen to clues as to where the user is, what method of transportation they’re on and their social setting i.e. if they’re alone or at a party.

This could set a dangerous precedent. It widens the gap between highly established artists and smaller artists trying to break through and earn more than less than a penny for each stream. Speak to your local record shop and pick up some music and ask them for recommendations, they need the help more than ever. 

LDN’S suggestion is to throw your phone in a river and go back to humming and grunting in a cave. Daniel Ek can never take that away from us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s