TL;DR Genres will be replaced by classification tags which can be assigned by the artist and all listeners.
The introduction of the genres was a big step forward to find the music you like. It enabled us to provide you with a fresh stream of related tracks and weekly charts.
About one year after the introduction, we all made experiences showing some shortcomings of the current implementation: important genres are missing from the list, some genres are overcrowded while others seem to be dead, users were starting to abuse other genres to chart without any competition, lack of understanding of the genres, ...
We thought about several updates to mitigate those problems but every solution raised new questions. So we stepped back to re-evaluate the entire situation.
Some of our main challenges:
- Genres are never sharp categories and their definition even changes over time
- Avoid single-track niche-genres
- Include sub-genres and fusion-genres in search
- Add requested genres easily
Taking one more step back we realized that the main function of the genres is to find similar music. But there are even more measures to group tracks together: moods, situations, XY type beat, ... and they all overlap. Lots of users already added those additional information to their tracks using the tags.
To cut a long story short: We are going to convert everything into tags - even the genres. While this seems to be a step backwards, we also introduce mechanisms to find related tags and allow everyone to assign tags to any track they want.
So in future one can express: "Hey that makes me wanna #dance", "Sounds like #hip hop and I like the #rap part", "I like that for #workout" (the full text expression is just for explanation - you'd just click on the #tag)
The more input you provide the better the results when looking for #dance music or a specific genre. We can even provide #dance charts or #workout playlists.
There are still some open challenges and there will be lots of WTF moments during the transition. But we believe we're heading towards a globally better solution.
How to combat tag trolls? Users will get some kind a trust-level which affects the weight of their tag-choice. If we recognize that someone is abusing the system they will get their trust-level reduced. We can even automatically detect if users are consequently diverging from the community's choice and reduce their trust-level based on that. That also works vice versa: users that are known to have a good sense for the right tags may get a boost of their level. We might also want to enable tagging only if the user actually listened to n seconds or x % of the track.
What happens if 100 listeners select 1000 different tags? Only the most popular tags will be shown. So if 10 users add #sad and one user adds #melancholic, all will be taken into account internally but #melancholic might be hidden. (both tags are considered to be similar btw)
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