Let it bleed: Spotify chooses the music that’s in your DNA

Lifestyle

Let it bleed: Spotify chooses the music that’s in your DNA

If you thought Spotify’s algorithm already knew you, wait until it gets under your skin and into your blood

Tymon Smith


Swedish streaming giant Spotify launched their service in SA earlier this year. If you’re a subscriber you might find it eerie  how well its curated playlists – based on your searches and the power of a top secret uber-powerful algorithm – seem to know just what kind of music you might like.
Now Spotify is taking this idea into new, and what many are dubbing “creepy”, territory thanks to a partnership launched last week with website AncestryDNA – a site that sells DNA kits to users who then send back a sample of their spit and are given a full breakdown of their molecular genealogy. If you thought Spotify’s algorithm already knew you, wait until it gets under your skin and into your blood.
But it appears that the DNA playlists are benign – if you have some German in your blood you might get a Rammstein song on your playlist, some Midnight Oil for your Australian heritage, Bollywood hits by Mohammed Rafi for your Indian ancestors, and so on. Ancestry’s Vineet Mehra said the partnership was inspired by the question of: “How do we help people experience their culture and not just read about it? Music seemed like an obvious way to do that.”
Questions arise from Ancestry’s policy of keeping your DNA information to do with as they please in exchange for their services. The reduction of the value of DNA as a means to open up users to a music experience is also not necessarily helpful insofar as it continues to reinforce the social constructs of race through science – remember eugenics?
For now, though, if you want Spotify to give you songs that run rhythms through your body like the blood that runs in your veins then the opportunity to find out who you are musically is a few clicks and an earbud of spit away.

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