The future of customer experience: Spotify (and most products) need a serendipity dial


Driven by frustration with the Spotify algorithm I have just posted an Idea Submission on the Spotify community website titled Introduce a serendipity dial. What I wrote is copied below, click on the link and vote it up if you like it!

Many, many Spotify users are getting incredibly frustrated at just being played things that they have heard before. Every artist or song radio ends up playing the same songs, almost irrespective of what the starting point was. It makes me want to give up on Spotify.  

This constant repeating of songs works for some users who only want to listen to a particular genre or era.  But for many others it becomes tedious beyond belief.

Why not let users choose how diverse their playlists are? They could dial up or down the degree of serendipity in being played new music. This would undoubtedly make Spotify users more loyal, rather than being driven away by the fact that a slight majority of people are unadventurous in their musical tastes.

I have written about the idea of the serendipity dial for the last 15 years and suggested it to Last.FM (which I still believe had a far better algorithm than Spotify).

Who’s with me on this?

I originally wrote about the idea of a serendipity dial back in 2006, specifically proposed it to seminal collaborative filtering music platform Last.FM in 2009, and wrote more extensively about the value of a serendipity dial in search, music, and beyond in 2011.

I’m not aware of any company that has introduced this option to their products (let me know if there are good examples!), but it seems to me like a fundamental aspect of the future of customer experience.

Some people are more adventurous than others, and everyone varies in how adventurous they feel, depending on their mood. Why do we all need to experience the same degree of predictability – or otherwise?

Spotify stands to benefit immensely by taking a lead on this. Any company that relies on search or predicting taste should also be exploring this.

Hoping this happens sooner rather than later!

Image: Arek Socha