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Tweak Spotify's recommendation tech to create custom playlists

An internal project shows how the company categorizes tracks.
Rob LeFebvre, @roblef
02.05.18 in AV
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If you're looking for a way to fine-tune your Spotify experience, you might want to check out Nelson, a web-based playback jukebox of sorts on app-maker website Glitch. You choose as many genres as you like before tweaking some of the Spotify API's various parameters, and Nelson will compile a custom set of songs. You can even have it create a playlist right on Spotify for you.

Originally tweeted out by Arielle Vaniderstine, a "developer advocate engineer" at Spotify, Nelson is very much a version one release on Glitch. It's an internal project that feels more like a toy than an exact tool or proper feature. Still, it's a blast to goof around with, and the playlists it creates appear right in your Spotify app, if you choose to do so. I clicked "Ambient," "Disco," "Electronic" and "Happy" and got a playlist that started with Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music." It's a happy disco song, for sure, but sometimes the results are a bit puzzling.

The different variables you can tweak are explained at the Spotify developer blog. There are things like "acousticness," "danceability," "instrumentalness, "loudness" and "speechiness." There's even a measure for the amount of happiness conveyed by a track, called "valence." You can change these values in Nelson with a slider and the resulting playlist (which will play in your browser by default) should match your selections.

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