Culture Defines Momentum

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Illustration by Eleanor Taylor via The Observer Effect

“Algotorial,” a portmanteau created by Spotify’s leadership, defines the intersection between machine learning and algorithms with editorial content and oversight. Insight: culture defines momentum, and algorithms can’t proactively determine that.

Longer insight, from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek:

“We try to be thoughtful about how we program content for the listener. We don’t have the data to determine the signals to measure sentiment, as an example, on a mass scale. This can only be determined by how we see culture reflected on our platform via users creating their own playlists or saving songs. A concrete example is the Black Lives Matter movement. How can an algorithm detect that momentum and figure out the most culturally appropriate way to create playlists celebrating Black Culture? The simple answer is: it can’t. At Spotify, that’s an editorial decision. Now, the algorithmic decision is: who sees the content? Is that the right content fit for everyone globally? Is it appropriate that someone who doesn’t even speak English, but lives in America is served this content?”

Daniel Ek
Spotify CEO

The Observer Effect
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Illustration by Eleanor Taylor via The Observer Effect