As both an artist and founder, I’ve long been concerned about how we would be able to build unique discovery and categorizing systems for Resonate, while doing so on a limited budget and avoiding the mistakes other services make.
This proposal tackles those issues, while seeking to create a simple short term solution for the following goals:
- Get listeners streaming more regularly
- Help them easily find interesting music
- Build in a cost effective manner
- Avoid algorithmic-based solutions
Chances are strong that we will only ever operate at a small fraction of Spotify’s production budget. Their acquisition of Echo Nest alone was for 40 million euros. So that gives a sense of scale as to the engineering investment behind an algorithmic based approach like Discover Weekly.
But algorithms aren’t just expensive. They’re also prone to creating negative feedback loops such as the gender imbalances revealed in this piece by Liz Pelly: Discover Weakly | Liz Pelly
A potentially very simple solution – expressive tagging
From an engineering perspective, tagging is relatively simple. You identify a content or media element by certain words, then when someone searches for those words, you can output a list of
items tagged with those words.
By focusing entirely on expressive words (examples: dark, edgy, fun, inspiring) rather than genres, this system would provide a way of categorizing music on the site based on emotional qualities rather than genres which are so blurry as to be somewhat meaningless these days.
System and UX design:
- A Tagging Team gathers in a community topic to craft the first set of words
- Those words are added into the song info section
- Listeners tag songs as they listen, suggesting new words that aren’t listed
- The Tagging Team updates the list based on new suggestions, filtering down to prevent redundancy
- A new section allows people to get automated playlists based on their current mood
Some questions and caveats:
- Should artists be able to over ride what listeners choose?
- Should artists be able to block certain songs from being tagged at all?
- Should we integrate a points system for tracking contributions?
There is no doubt that this system of music organization and discovery will be quite rudimentary. But what it offers seems well worth it:
- it gets a large group of people back on the service every day to listen and tag
- it is quiet achievable at our current scale of engineering
- it incentivizes artists to upload new works (and past catalog) with a guarantee that their music is going to get heard
So, discussions… comment, tear it apart, present counter solutions… lets discuss!