Spotify's takedowns put an end to the music scene and fans are fed up Tech Crunch

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On a brutal In December, Spotify found that 17% of its employees had been laid off in the company's third round of job cuts last year. Not long after, music fans around the world realized that the cult-favorite website Every Noise at Once (Every Noise), an encyclopedic goldmine for music discovery, had stopped working.

These two events are not disconnected. Glenn MacDonald, the Spotify data alchemist who created Everynoise, was one of 1,500 employees let go that day, but his dismissal had wider implications; Now that MacDonald doesn't have access to internal Spotify data, he can no longer manage Everynoise, which has become a key resource for the most obsessive music fans to track new releases and learn more about the sounds they love.

“The project is about understanding the listening communities around the world, what they're called, what the artists are and what their audiences are,” MacDonald told TechCrunch. “The goal is to use the math you can to find the real things in listening patterns. So I think global music is trying to help self-organize.

If you work at a big tech company and get fired, you probably don't expect the company's customers to write nine-page complaints on a community forum, telling them how badly your former boss messed up by firing you. Reddit threads and Tweets How do you get an axe, you ask? But how did fans react to hearing McDonald's fate?

“Without Glenn, I know we've suffered a tremendous permanent loss, but if Spotify doesn't do something to save it, I'll drop it like a hot pile of garbage,” one fan wrote on the Spotify community. Forum. “I'll keep an eye on Glenn and see where he ends up; this could actually be a service that cares about music and its superusers (and its employees!).

Another fan added, “Spotify doesn't have Netflix's problem of streaming content. Spotify is sitting on an immeasurably large catalog of music and metadata about that music that no company on earth has ever been able to collect, and Everynoise has honestly, and most successfully, tried to make that music discoverable for themselves. Put in the effort.”

And, to quote a more succinct complaint: “Everynoise is my library of Alexandria, and you are burning it from within. Delete.”

McDonald created Everynoise while working at The Echo Nest, a music intelligence firm that Spotify acquired in 2013. The site hosts a map of over 6,000 music genres that you can click on to listen to music samples in any genre from pagan black metal. Australian rockabilly. According to data from Similarweb, EveryNoise averaged 633,227 monthly web visits in 2023.

When he saw a genre that didn't have a name, he usually tried to give it the most straightforward name possible — like Bulgarian trap or Italian post-punk.

“The shared vocabulary that we use to talk about music — it's interesting to talk to music in general,” MacDonald said.

But occasionally, he took some creative liberties. One of his favorite genre names is “Escape Room,” which fueled a few memes when he appeared in a group of Spotify wrapped users after he added it in 2020.

“It added to the process of trying to understand how people's listening is handled, and I got to see this group of artists who were Lizzo and everything around Lizzo. I've completely failed to think of any descriptive name for it, but it's kind of an escape from the roots of trap music, and that's when escape rooms were starting to get big, so let's call it an 'escape' room,'' he said. “What the hell is an escape room?' It's cool that people complain about that, and then find 'The Sound of Escape Room' on Spotify and say, 'Oh, those are the artists I like.'

When Spotify acquired The Echo Nest, data collected by MacDonald and hosted on EveryNoise became the basis for Spotify's style system. MacDonald's database offers a “Fans Also Like” feature that appears on every artist page; Additionally, Spotify's personalized “Daily Mix” feature comes from a McDonald's project on The Echo Nest.

“The Genre Project became Spotify's genre system,” explains MacDonald. “It was originally my visualization of the dataset that was Echo Nest, which is now Spotify, and I worked on it and wrote all the algorithms and tools for it. I'm not alone in adding genres to it. Many people have contributed over the years to build the data structure that powers certain things at Spotify.

Even if a feature isn't directly tied to EveryNoise, the project's painstaking categorization of each genre means MacDonald's fingerprints are on dozens of Spotify features, even ones he didn't actually work on. An accurate and ever-expanding music genre map provides data that informs products like the Viral Daylist or the many statistics on Spotify Wrapped that fans share like wildfire.

MacDonald has contributed to many Spotify wrapped features over the years, such as Soundtowns, Top Genres, Listening Personalities and a Tarot-like feature. Soundtowns, which shows users which geographic location most closely shares their musical tastes, was one of the most viral stories to wrap up this year.

“Soundtowns was specifically an idea that I had internally, and people picked up on it and said we want to do it, and I helped the guys who were doing the specific story to make sure it was successful,” MacDonald told TechCrunch. “These are things we do because we love music and we want people to have these experiences.”

Just days after Wrapped came out, Spotify made such a spectacular deletion.

“People like me who worked on Wrapped spent half a week getting to work — we did the most viral thing on the internet again,” MacDonald said. “The timing of the layoffs and being wrapped was so sad. My swag came from contributing to Wrapped after I was laid off.

Everynoise is perhaps most popular for its New Releases feature, which allowed fans to easily browse new music filtered by genre — something that Spotify might seem to have, but it doesn't.

“I've used Everynoise constantly, not only to discover new genres, but also to discover new releases in genres I already care about,” wrote one fan on the same community forum. “Spotify is severely lacking in features that support intuitive and user-guided discovery, and I've used this site to help mitigate Spotify's failure.”

Spotify has an API for developers, but it's not as comprehensive as the internal data McDonald used as a Spotify employee. While developers can pull individual releases through the API, there is no way to create a complete list of popular new releases or new releases by genre.

“The thing about new releases… if Spotify can do as little as possible it's going to be revived,” MacDonald said. “I still feel kind of crazy that I don't work there anymore. I still care about the problem. And if I can help fix it on my own with these public tools, I will.

If you now navigate to EveryNoise, the site may appear to be active. You can scroll and click on any of the 6,000 genres that will play a clip of a sample song through Spotify. And you can search for your favorite band, see what genres they're linked to, and use those connections to explore unexplored bands you've never encountered. But it's not, with “New Music Fridays” and seamless links to Spotify, constantly updating Everynoise fans will love. For now, the site shows a static snapshot of its final state before the McDonald's layoff, with many of its best features no longer working.

“All the stuff I worked on is still running — or, I had it automated and running when I got fired — but I don't know what's going to happen, so I think some of it will be closed,” MacDonald said. . “If we are lucky, it will be closed voluntarily and on purpose. If we're unlucky, it breaks, and I'm not there to fix it.”

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