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  • Voltaire Staff

Spotify's layoffs effectively ends EveryNoise - and it's not good for music lovers

Sometime last December, EveryNoise, the music encyclopaedia, stopped updating, leaving millions of music enthusiasts in a state of confusion about the website's future.

Glenn McDonald, who played a pivotal role in EveryNoise's success, was one of the 1,500 employees laid off by the Spotify during its third round of job cuts last year.

In a post on his site, McDonald told visitors that with no more access to Spotify's data, he won't be able to update the site anymore.

"With my layoff from Spotify on 2023-12-04, I lost the internal data-access required for ongoing updates to many parts of this site. Most of this, as a result, is now a static snapshot of what, for now, will be the final state from the site's 10-year history and evolution, hosted on my own server.," he wrote.

He added, "Some pieces may get disabled and reenabled over time, and some that only made sense with current data may never return. But we'll see."

McDonald's layoff spells broader implications. The site served as a crucial tool for music enthusiasts, helping them track new releases and explore their favourite genres in-depth.

McDonald told TechCrunch, "The project is to understand the communities of listening that exist in the world, figure out what they're called, what artists are in them and what their audiences are."

He added, "The goal is to use math where you can to find real things that exist in listening patterns. So I think about it as trying to help global music self-organise."

McDonald founded EveryNoise at The Echo Nest, later acquired by Spotify in 2013. The site features a map of 6,000+ music genres, allowing users to sample diverse genres like Bubblegum Disco and Terrorcore.

The website averaged 633,227 monthly web visits in 2023.

McDonald's data forms the basis of Spotify's genre system, powering features like "Fans also like" and "Daily Mix."

"It’s my visualisation of a dataset that was originally the Echo Nest's, that is now Spotify's, and that I worked on and was the main curator of, and wrote all the algorithms and tools for," he told TechCrunch.

McDonald wasn't the only person working on adding genres to it and the site allowed contributions from a lot of people over the years that built a data structure that powers some things at Spotify.

The detailed music genre map informs products like the Spotify Wrapped. The December layoffs came just days after Wrapped's release.

"The people like me who worked on Wrapped and then got laid off had like, half a week to bask in the work — we made the thing that is the most viral thing again on the internet," McDonald said. "The timing with the layoffs and Wrapped was just sad. I got my swag from having contributed to Wrapped after I was laid off."

EveryNoise gained popularity for its New Releases feature, allowing fans to easily explore new music by genre—an aspect absent on Spotify's platform.

"All of the stuff I worked on was still running — or, I left it automated and running when I was laid off — but I have no idea what will happen though, so I assume some of it will get shut down," McDonald said. "If we're lucky, it'll get voluntarily and intentionally shut down. If we're unlucky, it'll break, and I'm not there to fix it."


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