That Spotify Daylist That Really ‘Gets’ You? It Was Written by A.I.

Have your Sunday scaries ever given way to a “Nervous Ocean Monday Morning”? Does the weekend truly begin on Friday, or on a “Wild and Free Chaotic Thursday Afternoon”? How should one dress for a “Paranormal Dark Cabaret Evening”?

Those odd strings of words are titles of “daylists,” a newish offering from the music-streaming giant Spotify. The feature provides users three new algorithmically generated playlists a day, each with an ultra-specific title that practically begs to be screencapped and posted.

The often baffling titles have recently captured the attention of social media, propelling the service to fresh popularity about four months after its September debut. In post after post, users seem amused by the feature’s ability to see right through them.

“Spotify called me out a little bit with this daylist,” one X user wrote of her own playlist. Its title: “Midwest Emo Flannel Tuesday Early Morning.”

Another described feeling “personally bullied” by Spotify after being served a collection of songs titled “Tailspin Self-Sabotaging Monday Afternoon.”

So who is responsible for the peculiar titles? Spotify users who have been amused by these thrice-daily servings of word salad might be surprised — or, just as likely, not — to learn that the playlist names are ginned up by A.I.

“Spotify uses machine learning to pull together the thousands of descriptors that create the unique daylist playlist names,” Molly Holder, a senior product director at Spotify, said in a statement. She characterized the tone of the titles as “hyper-personalized, dynamic and playful.”

Ms. Holder added that the team behind these quirky playlists included data scientists and music experts who identify musical descriptors based on genre, mood and themes that are then associated with specific tracks “through methods such as music expert annotation, sonic similarity and trends.”

“The way we see it, the titles give users a playful way to express their unique audio identity,” Ms. Holder wrote.

Generally speaking, users have been taking the titles with a grain of salt.

“It seems like Spotify kind of, like, made up these musical genres,” said Chelsy McInnis of St. Louis.

Ms. McInnis, who works in marketing and has been an avid Spotify user for the past 10 years, said that she had started using the daylist feature in September. She checks on it three times a day.

“My morning title is completely different than my afternoon title, which is completely different than my evening title,” Ms. McInnis said. “And it’s just, like, super fun to see kind of what it spits out at me.”

Daylist builds on the popularity of Spotify Wrapped, a year-end look at a user’s personalized listening history that debuted in 2016 and has since become a fixture of the social media calendar. Spotify Wrapped, which packages listening data such as a user’s top artist or most-listened-to music genres and presents it in shareable formats tailor-made for Instagram, was joined last year by “sound town,” a feature that assigns users a particular city in the world where others are listening to similar music or artists.

Daylists appear to dovetail with Spotify’s broader strategies around hyper-specificity. According to Ms. Holder, four out of five Spotify users pointed to the platform’s personalized offerings as what they like most about the brand.

But a playful brand voice can be a dangerous proposition for corporations, who risk running afoul of consumer sensitivities with each cheeky ad or brazen tweet. With great brand identity comes great responsibility.

“I got ‘Fun Purim Thursday Morning,’” said Shayna Weiss, senior associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. “I was like, ‘What does this even mean?’ Purim is a fun Jewish holiday, but using it was, like, the weirdest way to describe a music vibe early in the morning.”

Dr. Weiss later received an afternoon playlist titled “Witchy Ethereal Tuesday,” to which she exclaimed, “What does it mean — that I listen to forests?”

She of course shared it on social media.

Kyle Stanley, a doctoral candidate at Louisiana State University studying digital and media popular culture, started using Spotify a year ago after seeing his friends share their Spotify Wrapped.

“The marketing on Instagram got me,” said Mr. Stanley, who was previously an Apple music user.

Mr. Stanley shares his daylist on his social media almost everyday, sometimes using the more private Close Friends feature on Instagram depending on how chaotic the title is. He credits the daylist’s popularity on social media to the way it allows for a more thorough understanding of an individual through music.

“Getting an insight into your personality a little bit more deeper than just once a year, and having this curated playlists multiple times every single day with a funny title, it draws people in and makes them want to be a part of this,” he said.

Mauricio Godoy, who lives in Brooklyn, started listening to his personalized daylist on Monday after seeing other friends sharing theirs on social media. His daylist at the start of the day was titled “Shoegaze Indie Tuesday Morning,” and his afternoon title was “Post-Punk Far Out Tuesday Afternoon.” He said he was looking forward to what his evening daylist title would be.

“I’m reminded of how the mixtapes always had a quirky title,” Mr. Godoy said, “and there was always a funny title that caught your attention when you pulled out your burned CD playlist. I think that’s kind of what these daylist titles are doing now.”

Madison Malone Kircher contributed reporting.



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