Spotify’s new Release Radar plays a central part in its data-driven product strategy to embed itself into your daily routine.


Last Friday, Spotify unveiled its newest feature: Release Radar — a personalized playlist of newly released music, updated every Friday. It’s reminiscent of Discover Weekly, but Release Radar’s recommendations are always newer tracks. My first impression is that it’s much more likely to recommend music from artists you’re already familiar with.

As Spotify keeps rolling out features like this, and competitors no doubt follow suit, the implications for the music business will be significant. Matt Ogle, who’s behind both of these playlists, revealed last March:

There are 2,000 artists for whom Discover Weekly is currently 80% of their streams, and something like five or six thousand for whom Discover Weekly is half of their streams.

But I’d like to zero in on Spotify’s product strategy and why features like Discover Weekly and Release Radar are so important for the service. It has everything to do with the power of habit.

Discover Weekly creates a perfect habit loop. The routine is listening to your refreshed playlist. The reward is the release of good hormones due to interesting new finds, and perhaps the social currency of sharing. The cue, or trigger, is simply the fact that it’s Monday and the start of a new week.

On Sunday, another habit loop is triggered. To prevent losing newly discovered gems, users log on to save tracks from Discover Weekly to their playlists. Loss prevention is one of the strongest motivators.

Spotify’s bet is that they can create another habit, focused on different days of the week, by releasing a new feature in the style of Discover Weekly. Being able to consistently drive traffic back to your product is great if you’re ad-supported, might help to convince free users to upgrade to premium, and helps premium users justify the recurring cost of their subscription.

Now, instead of 2, there will be 4 cues.

Friday is a great day for Release Radar for two reasons:

  1. Easy to remember: it’s the last day of the week and people have the weekend on their minds.
  2. Since last year, Friday is the global release day for new music.

Here are two hacks I made that bring some cool additional automation to the new Release Radar playlist:

Curious how Release Radar works? The wonderful folks at Hydric Media, who are behind the hit music app Wonder, created a free tool called Playground, which opens up all the different parameters of Spotify’s Echo Nest API powering the Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists.

How has your Release Radar experience been? I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. Send me a tweet: @basgras.