Featured Playlist Development

I embrace the cautions about a popularity contest for ‘selectors/makers’.

In my vision for the listening ecosystem the role of the ‘selector/maker’ is critical. They are a primary conduit in the architecture of discovery.

To me this is an amplification of the natural way I have most often found music, by observing the path of a friend or mentor through the forest of all available music.

A critical link is attaching authorship to playlists so that those author-references can establish reputations in the community over time.

I want to have a network of selector sources I follow and observe how others follow others.

I imagine this could be the primary navigation tool for most discovery. The semantic universe established by flows of social relations through voluntary follows/unfollows would arguably be more useful and resilient than the fixed-judgement nature of genre tagging.

The challenge is introducing new users to the selector community so they can start to find their affinities, guides and pathways.

I envision the co-op helping with the provisioning of resources to connect listeners with the work of selectors. (This discussion is a concrete example of such provisioning.)


:100: Super important.

Perhaps another articulation of all this is that it could be a goal of ours to create an environment where a piece of work (album/playlist) should be able to stand and be appreciated in its own right without the artist or curator having to become an “influencer”.

There are plenty of amazing artists out there who prefer not to have to advertise themselves constantly and become a brand. Same with a listener who builds a playlist. It should be able to be appreciated without the curator being sucked into tastemakerdom. People aren’t the product.

But I do see the beauty in this being a “human-centered” space as well. Subtle distinctions at play.


:100: Would like Resonate to be an ‘oasis of listening’ where the work itself has the chance to speak and be heard.

1 Like

I think @angus was using the Discourse term ‘topic’ to mean ‘thread in Discourse’. Perhaps a thread in our Music Category?

That’s fine. As long as there is an author reference that allows that – perhaps fictional – identity to build a line of reputation.

I think the selector should have the power of discretion to present themselves with a ‘real name’ and identity, or use as many disguises as they wish, or claim anonymity. Would be interesting to see how people use these tools.

@angus @Hakanto Are our APIs being built to support this degree of authorial freedom ie multiple simultaneous nicknames for Listener/selectors/forum accts?

1 Like

@community Fyi we’re going to get a notice about the playlist comp in the newsletter going out Friday


@Hakanto Have we got a good write up of how to make a playlist somewhere? Can you add it to the topic @boopboop made for the comp?

@community Also, if you can try to find time to post your own playlist in the next few days we can lead by example :slight_smile: I’m going to be listening all day today to make mine I reckon.

Not yet; good idea. I’ll write a brief guide and add it to the Handbook :guitar:


Good morning,

I apologise for entering this conversation so late, and therefore dumping a massive thought chain here!

I can see that there are 3 main areas here that have been discussed - my thoughts that I would like to share below.

  1. how to present playlists on resonate - this needs to be established as a working discussion group with artists, curators, coop members, tech, marketing and story. we have the chance to do something wonderful and think big, but part of that is looking at how playlists are used, what they represent, what can they offer for discovery, community, collectives etc. Ultimately this may lead into the discussion around bringing both podcasts and audio books into resonate next year. As well as things like stems, demos etc. Is there already a public group for this?

There must be a deeper conversation about how we can creatively do better than other DSPs and music communities - this is a conversation that involves both tech, community, marketing/comms/story - how will the playlists be highlighted and presented long term, what can they become for the community - how are they used by other communities like currents/bandcamp/soundcloud, how are they used (and abused) by DSPs/advertisers/major labels, what does collective patronage look like and how can we achieve this within resonate and the music ecosystem, how can we level the playing field for all, how can we elevate the unheard or ignored, how do we encourage discovery and participation in new scenes, right up to the core issue of what is the value of music and art. etc.

It’s the most exciting and vital problem to solve - where we can take the best of tech and the best of human discovery. We can already see examples of this being done well - at bandcamp for instance highlighting supporters/showing purchases etc (where they also do it “badly” in the editorial form of bandcamp daily, but still better than all the other DSPs where it becomes personality driven and payola), and from these starting points we can probably do even better as we are intentionally building to be ethical, fair, inclusive, just etc…

  1. playlists as a competition - this is the main reason I am here.
    angus asked me to publicise the new playlist competition on the newsletter - which is how I became aware of this discussion.

here is my answer to @angus - edited

I am wary of including the featured playlist competition in the newsletter.
I discussed this with @richjensen last night and I’m going to try to share some of my concerns with you now…

A competition is setting a precedent, we haven’t communicated via newsletter in years and as a community based on cooperation, inclusivity, diversity etc. it feels completely off to be promoting a competition. What does that say about who we are? That we are actively forging a path with “winners” and therefore “losers” in music.

In general, the idea of competitions to highlight music is ethically wrong - art is not a competition - and what I understood to be the complete antithesis of what we want to build as both a platform and community. It’s written in our manifesto that has already been agreed by the board.

From a marketing and communication viewpoint… It also feels too basic - while I appreciate it has been decided and will go ahead as a first trial, to highlight it in the newsletter or our socials is something I am strongly against. I would hope that this quickly evolves into something thoughtfully and consciously in keeping with our coop ideals.

I saw from the thread that one of the reasons that was decided to do a competition is to “reward” members - but they are already being rewarded by being a part of the coop! Transparency, participation, ownership, governance are the rewards.

If we want to incentivise people to engage and share, it has to be more complicated, deeper and meaningful than a competition or picking favourites. And to highlight a single playlist is, again, against our own manifesto. (I believe that a playlist landing page that draws highlighted playlists from multiple sources - genre, geographic, artists, curators, most listened, not listened, new, random should be our urgent Q1 '22 goal)

I can suggest a quick fix - rather than it being a competition for any playlist, it could be made into a discovery playlist. A discovery playlist would be made entirely of music the curator has discovered on resonate, no friends or relatives, sounds outside their comfort zone or regular listening habits that they want to share with the community. Something like this would slightly better fit our ideals. It would be created with deliberate care and intention to push discovery and exploration - therefore in keeping with our values.

I don’t expect that to be done now, and honestly we can probably do even better with enough heads - but criticism delivered without proposed solutions or steps forward is obviously unhelpful!

  1. personalities rather than playlists - as suggested by @richjensen
    my experience of this way of doing things is that the nature of marketing and music industry churn would quickly lead this in a direction that was not our intention… even as a rolling post or personality, it’s gatekeeping, and in 2021 we must be able to do better.

Finally, highlighting of the playlists will have to be done, probably very soon, but personally I don’t believe we will need a competition to get people to use or spread the playlists. That’s why the embedding of playlists/releases is so essential to our renewal - to enable organic spread and usage outside of our platform. Part of the communication strategy is to get media, artists, curators, labels, radio shows, charities/NGOs etc to take up the use of our playlisting function and spread it. And once this isn’t hidden on the site and we have new catalogue, and people see this being used, they will take it up themselves - IMO.

I hope that this is helpful,


Right now the playlist labeled Featured Playlist on the homepage of the new (and old) player is a discovery playlist (this one), are you saying to continue do the staff picks flow? So, basically, no change?

Realistically, without advertising the playlist competition / collaborative decision-making process, the pool of people that would submit playlists and the pool that would be voting on it will overlap so much that the very small number of people interested in voting but not creating would essentially make the decision, assuming each playlist creator votes for their own playlist.

So practically speaking, should I cancel the other topic about the playlist non-competiton to reduce confusion?

Perhaps this belongs in another thread, but part of the motivations behind the playlist competition was to do transparency, participation, and ownership. The current way of picking the items on the featured playlist had rather low participation, this was an effort to engage more people in a transparent, participatory way so they/we could actually feel meaningful ownership of the platform.

If this is the wrong way, and participation / ownership means something else, then it would be nice for it to be made more explicit to reduce efforts in the wrong direction.


In terms of presentation, @boopboop and I are happy to rename it. We never had strong feelings for calling it a competition.

Let’s make a firm separation between presentation and process.

In terms of process, what we are proposing here is a process for members to choose the featured playlist each month for the front of the resonate player. Folks make nominations, folks vote to show support for nominations, the one who has the most support becomes the playlist – there’s even a term limit of one month.

If this sounds familar, it’s because its an election process. Whether we are electing a playlist, a person to a role, etc, this is fundamentally a democratic process. It’s a limited one – there are many other processes available for making decisions together which are more refined. We can experiment with different things, but this particular format is a start.

So let’s take a moment to acknowledge that the process being proposed is more democratic than any process which has happened in the past years of Resonate concerning how artists are featured.

Up until very recently, the featured playlist “Staff Picks” has always been determined by resonate’s volunteers on a do-ocratic basis, with an overall goal to make the playlist diverse. There were Staff Picks where I called on volunteers to submit picks, few were submitted, I ended up having to pick most of the playlist myself. It was a lot of work for me and others who at other times found themselves curator, and terrible from a transparency and participation standpoint.

So this new process is a step forward. For presentation on the player and newsletter, we can state “The featured playlist for next month will be voted on by members. Try out the new playlist tool and submit your own.” – something like that. We are introducing folks to playlists as a feature on Resonate – its brand new! And I don’t think we need to stress to ourselves to “focus on discovery”. The whole catalog is discovery for most of us!

If we want people to be able to participate, both in the voting and in the playlist creation, we need to keep the rules and creative limitations as minimal as possible.

If we want to open a working group to explore the questions you raised above, let’s do it. I think it would be a great discussion, but what’s the timeline and what would the group do other than discuss? Let’s have a clear sense of that first. How does someone join the group? What do they make decisions about? Transparency must apply here as well.

All of these discussions will be ongoing ones. Broadly, we need to move to more transparent, responsive, and iterative processes throughout Resonate rather than treating such big questions as things we will have a perfect vision for before acting. Smaller cycles. Make small steps, reflect on them – “was this in the right direction? yes? did it cause any problems? no?” – then we do more of it.

To quote the sociocratic questions: “Does this do harm?” “Is it safe enough to try?” There was a wise objection that calling this a competition could do harm. That removed, is this experiment safe enough to try? @melis_tailored @richjensen @LLK


Great ideas here. We can start working on these designs bit by bit.

Let’s not mistake as intentional the outcomes of our current technical and labor limitations. Many things at resonate simply are the way they are and we must make the best of them – improving them in small steps.

It may be easier than I know for us to build out these features, but we are still very limited by our capacity. Resonate can feel big, but all of us who are active here could probably fit in a cafe. The developers could all fit at one table.


I wish I could help more with that kind of stuff. I think @melis_tailored 's idea of a sort of “multi-playlist ethos” landing page where we try to showcase different approaches (in a way I’d see it presented a bit like a news outlet website landing page) would help not put the focus on any one particular kind of playlist and either people would go to the kind they’re interested in or even better maybe that could incite them to try different kinds depending on the day and what’s being showcased.

Also : agreed the word competition needs to disappear, it’s the kind of word that just makes me want to run away and never look back, like, I have a very very strong problem with it in any context that isn’t Sport (ie. That doesn’t have an artificial set of rules meant to define an archetypal and artificially designed “best” in a narrowed down field that’s just symbolic).

To be even clearer, in any situation where there isn’t a clear and pragmatic definition of what is “best” (here who can tell with absolute certainty what’s the “best” playlist?) agreed upon by all participants, the word competiton doesn’t apply.


Here’s where we can start making a wishlist of features for the Browse Playlists Page. @boopboop has been independently doing a lot of cool work on this theme!


Reminder that an embedded playlist or album will only allow people to listen to the first 45 seconds of each track. Want to make sure that we are on the same page about that!

1 Like

Is there no way to have a system similar to Bandcamp where an artist can give a link to an integrated embedded player for his/her release that only works on a specific website which allows for stuff like press exclusive to display the song / album on their page? At least for releases. Playlists are another set of issues and a bigger can of worms.


Let’s continue that convo here, @LLK.

1 Like

There‘s a big difference between multiple ppl being given the opportunity to contribute to a single playlist, of multiple tracks, with clear guidelines to further diversity - aka staff picks (which we planned to rename community picks in november). vs a competition to find a single playlist to highlight.

even if the process is democratic, the outcome isn‘t. it‘s a competition - and i‘m surprised we‘re going down that route given the labours undertaken over the miniscule details if everything else we do. also, art as a competition is literally against our manifesto, whether you use the word or just the process.

staff picks was working pretty well - i wasn‘t aware it had become a huge labour for you @Hakanto - happy to take that back off your plate.

the playlist browser page is hugely important - in that we have the chance to change how an entire industry functions & presents curation! this is a huge topic that needs many different perspectives & brains - i can share some of the thoughts story team also had in this area earlier in the year. essentially, we should be aiming for revolution not status quo (in all things).

i‘m still confused how some things of huge importance can seem to be decided & actioned with so little research/wider input, but things that are widely discussed, simple & agreed, don‘t happen cuz of some random thing buried deep in the rule book.