September 20, 2023


Spotify Daylists: A Marketer's Perspective

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, Spotify is essential. If I had to pick just one subscription, it would hands down be Spotify. I'd skip Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, all of them.

Just to give you an idea, I clocked 67,806 minutes on Spotify last year—imagine 47 days straight, or 12% of the whole year!

Yeah, you could call it an addiction, but it's my secret to staying focused and cool, no matter what comes my way.

Lately, I’ve gotten bored of my current playlists, and I don’t have much time to dig through the weeds to find new songs. It’s not that the songs are bad, I just no longer get the stimulation of listening, and instead I just feel numb to it as I’m working. I started playing YouTube videos or streaming TV shows in the background to replace Spotify at work - I needed a distraction and more variety, because while the daily mixes were okay, they mostly stuck to my liked songs.

And don't get me started on the hit-or-miss nature of the discover weekly feature.

Lo and behold, Spotify answered my unspoken wish with Spotify Daylists. Since it landed, my screen time with Spotify has practically tripled.

Let me explain why this was such a genius move on their part, and is there any way other industries can implement something like this?

Spotify’s Failed AI DJ

Yes spotify, your AI DJ failed if you haven’t realized it. 

During the AI craze, every business was rushing to hop on the AI bandwagon, looking for ways to incorporate it. I, too, got bombarded with questions about recommended integrations. But here's my take: not every business needs to go all-in on AI to make it big in this modern era.

With AI taking the spotlight, Spotify felt the heat and rolled out an AI DJ that was, well, half-baked.

This AI was essentially just the algorithm jazzed up, and sadly, it didn't impress. I gave it a shot for a full workday. To their credit, I did spend more time on the app than usual, but it was mostly to skip one song after another. The algorithm seemed insistent on suggesting genres and artists that were way off my taste.

Maybe I'm just too picky.

I had a few friends try it, and they felt the same way. The whole pitch for the AI DJ was to create something personal—a music companion that understands your taste and fits right in your pocket.

Now, I'm not dismissing their efforts. They did use Sonatic to craft a synthetic voice, processing a few hours of voice samples and adding algorithms to make it sound human-like. I actually liked the voice—no complaints there. They even roped in chatGPT to whip up descriptions and intros based on a quick scan of the upcoming music, which the voice model then read out.

But when it came to understanding a user's music taste, it missed the mark. That's probably why you won't find the AI DJ prominently displayed on your homepage anymore, just a click away (unless you're among the rare 3 who use it daily and find it in your 'recently played').

Introduction To Spotify Daylists

I opened Spotify last week when I got in my car, as I normally do, and I got a notification that they were releasing a new Daylist, and their description was that even they didn’t know how to describe it. 


I opened it up, and it was my usual music taste of Midwest Emo that I could play on my way to work. Got to work, and continued adding songs to my playlist from it, so same old same old. However, when 9 AM hit, the playlist was gone, and replaced with Hyperpop. Descriptions changed and the previous songs were gone, now replaced with the new genre that was still within my music taste.

Looking a little closer, I saw that the playlist had a countdown for when it’d update, and it’s consistent. Every 2-3 hours, it’s a whole new playlist.

Unlike the AI DJ, Spotify Daylists are playlists made just for you, changing often based on your music taste and when you listen. They’re trying to keep you engaged with the platform, and I think Spotify’s succeeding.


From a marketer's perspective, I can't help but dissect their strategy.

Apple Music has emerged as a potent rival, giving Spotify a run for its money. Since its release, it's been chipping away at Spotify's user base, causing a noticeable dent. Currently, Spotify accounts for 30% of users, experiencing a steady decline from 35% in Q1 of 2019, while Apple Music is standing at 15%. Apple Music's allure lies in its provision of high-quality audio, especially appealing to audiophiles. To stay in the game, Spotify needs to play to its strengths, and that strength lies in its vibrant culture.

Annually, Spotify unveils "Spotify Unwrapped," a much-anticipated event where users can peek into their listening habits, top artists, and even the percentage of fandom they hold for their favorite musicians. When this extravaganza hits social media, Spotify users flood their feeds with personal stats. Some media outlets have even labeled this as Spotify promoting music addiction. Admittedly, I'm no exception, starting this article by showcasing my own Spotify stats in the hopes of asserting some authority in my words.

And then comes Daylist, adding a new layer to this culture. Daylist is a personalized playlist that you can share, but here's the kicker—it disappears, fully replaced. Cue the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). It encourages users to stay glued to the app, exploring the music and eagerly awaiting their updated playlists. Personally, I've seen my screen time on Spotify almost triple, as it no longer lurks in the background. Instead, it's been granted its own dedicated screen where I can view and add songs. Plus, the playlist's subtle transformation, accompanied by changing background art to match the day's progression, adds to the enticement.

This is what the AI DJ should've been—a genuine hit. A quick trip to Reddit reveals users singing praises for this playlist. Even news articles have jumped on the bandwagon, commending its brilliance.

It's an undeniable leap forward for Spotify. They've shifted their focus towards pleasing their existing users, ensuring their satisfaction, rather than obsessing over stock numbers as they did with the AI DJ or relentlessly chasing new users.

What Can We Learn From This?

I mentioned earlier that businesses can learn from Spotify's smart move, but it's a bit tricky to explain fully here.

Schedule a one-on-one with me for a customized pitched!

Sales pitch aside, it’s difficult because there’s a variety of businesses, all unique, and I can’t create a one size fits all solution. However, here’s my basic advice:

Focus on creating a great experience for your customers. That's what sets apart a successful store from an ordinary one. Think of it like creating a 'Disneyland experience'. Your aim is to keep your customers happy and excited during their journey with you. If you want to charge higher prices, it's not just about claiming your stuff is 'premium'. It's about the journey you provide.

Don’t try to rush into the AI game, as you’re risking damaging your reputation. The craze is here, and yes it’s here to stay. However, rushing into it could potentially harm your reputation. Take a step back and consider where AI can genuinely enhance your business operations. Instead of hastily implementing a half-baked AI system just to keep up, focus on thoughtful integration that augments your existing practices. It's about optimizing your business effectively rather than being the first to slap on an "AI" label in your industry.

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