I need to listen to music while I work. It’s either that, or listen to the sound of my own breathing, which is enough to drive me into a state of existential despair. But the hardest part of listening to music every day is deciding what to put on. I just want to press play and go so I have something to fill the silence.
Spotify’s auto-generated Daily Mixes, a new feature they’ve rolled out to their iOS and Android apps, has become the best way to achieve this. Here’s how they work (and why they’re better than Pandora or Beats 1).
How Daily Mixes Work
Each Daily Mix has between 15 and 30 tracks. They combine some of your favorite music by your most listened to artists, some tracks you haven’t heard in a while by artists you listen to regularly, and stuff you’ve never listened to before that Spotify thinks you’ll like. I’ve found the split to be pretty even across all three categories.
To listen to your Daily Mixes, open the Spotify mobile app (it’s coming to the desktop app “soon”) and go to the Library tab. Select Your Daily Mix and then pick the one you want to listen to.
You get between one and six mixes depending on how varied your music taste is and how long you’ve been using Spotify. Each mix targets one broad genre. For example, I have:
- A Pop Punk Mix with lots of Blink-182, Alkaline Trio, Linkin Park, and the Offspring.
- An Alternative Mix that’s basically Sia, alt-J, The xx, and other bands with weird punctuation.
- A Rap Mix that has way too much Pitbull in it for me to have any self-respect.
- A Musicals Mix because, like every seventeen year old girl, I listened to My Shot on repeat for about a month.
- A Hip Hop Mix that mainly has stuff from the 90s.
- An EDM Mix with a random sampling of everything from Afrojack to Zedd.
Each Mix is completely tailored to me. I don’t listen to much Pop or Heavy Metal so they’re never in my Mixes. If you listen to a lot of Justin Bieber and Metallica, you’re going to see a completely different set of playlists.
The tracks in the Daily Mixes are constantly changing. Spotify promises that within a day of listening to a Mix it will have “a fresh queue of tracks”. In practice, I’ve found that most music sticks around in a Mix for a few days before being replaced, but the tracks change enough daily that the Mixes never go stale.
The Daily Mixes evolve with your music taste. If you go through a massive Miley Cyrus phase, that’s going to influence your Mixes. You can also tell Spotify what tracks you like and don’t like.
When you’re listening to a track from a Daily Mix, you’ve got two options you don’t normally get in Spotify. Tap the heart to save a track to your library and let Spotify know it’s doing good; tap the “no” sign to banish a song and never hear it again.
Why Daily Mixes Are So Awesome
Spotify knows me better than any of my ex-girlfriends. It was there through every 80s play, every brief flirtation with Country, and every late night Taylor Swift session. They have tens of thousands of data points just from me.
I’d like to think I’m unique, but I’m really not. There are thousands of other Blink-182 fans with a soft spot for Tay Tay and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Spotify has all their data too. And combined, they can get a pretty good picture of what kind of music we’re going to enjoy.
The quality of the data is what set’s Spotify’s Daily Mixes apart from Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio, Pandora’s Stations, and all the other streaming services attempts at music discovery. Spotify isn’t using a quiz, a DJ or just the tracks you’ve up-voted to work out what you what to hear; they’re using your own dirty listening habits. Every track you’ve played, skipped, or put on repeat through your entire Spotify history is influencing your Daily Mix. No other service has data this deep.
The perfect example of this happened to me last week. LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know It is in my gym playlist. And my going out playlist. And my cheesy playlist. I listen to it a lot without ever really meaning to. I’m never going to describe LMFAO as one of my favorite artists, but deep down, I know they probably are. Spotify knows this too, so, as part of one of my Daily Mixes, they’ve started including tracks from related artists. One of LMFAO’s members, Redfoo, released a solo album this year and it’s awesome. Would I have listened to it myself? Probably not. But when Spotify’s slipping tracks from it into my Mixes, I love every play.
The Daily Mixes have made deciding what to listen to simple. I’ve only got six choices and one of them always fits my mood. I know that every day I’m going to hear a mix of tracks I love and music that’s new (at least to me). They’re flat out the best zero-effort way to listen to music.