How Microsoft’s new curated playlist experience “Your Groove” works

Kareem Anderson

Groove client update featured

For some time now, a majority of feedback the Groove team has received from users has been focused on keeping up in the curated playlist area of its streaming music service. While most die-hard Zune fans will forever lament the loss of the service, others have been arguably patient in waiting for the Groove team to get the streaming service up to par.

Fortunately, with today’s update to the Groove Music that brings the app up to version 3.6.2244.0, the Groove team has taken its biggest step yet to fulfill months, if not years, of user requests for a better-curated experience.

According to a post on Microsoft’s Community Discussion forum, resident Groove-whisperer Ellen Kilbourne explains just how the new experience is crafted and when users will be able to enable new curated playlist in the form of a new section to Groove called Your Groove.

Today, we are pleased to introduce Your Groove, the place for music that is centered around you. This is where you can not only quickly get back to things you’ve played recently, but also find recommendations for what to play next. Playlists for you are automatically generated playlists curated to your taste, based on a variety of factors such as your use of Groove (e.g. top plays, recent adds), musical metadata (e.g. mood, genre, era), information about the world of music around you (e.g. recent releases, who is on tour, critical reception), and common music-related activities (e.g. focusing at work, getting a party started) They update often to give you fresh recommendations, so save the ones you love to your own playlists so you can listen to them again and again. Saving a copy also gives you the ability to edit the content and download them for offline playback. The more music you add to your collection, the higher quality and variety of Playlists for you we will be able to generate. For those with a Music Pass, we mix in some recommendations of new songs you may like based on what you already have in your collection.”

In a sort of self-imposed Q&A derived from an FAQ with early adopters, Kilbourne walks users through the finer details of aggregation and the subtle differences between the benefits of being a Groove Music Pass member and not when it comes to crafting the Your Groove section.

Which tracks are used to make Playlists for you?

In order to be used, tracks must either be from Groove Music Pass or your own personal files uploaded to OneDrive. Playlists for you do not incorporate local tracks on your device, so if you want us to use those, you’ll need to upload them to OneDrive.

Are Playlists for you made with tracks from my collection, or recommendations of tracks I might like?

For non-subscribers, we just use your OneDrive tracks. For Groove Music Pass users, we not only use the music you already know you love in your collection but also incorporate some similar recommendations of tracks that you might like based on your collection. Let us know if you’d like to see more or less of either, or an even measure of both.

How do I get some/more of them?

Add music to your Groove Music Pass or OneDrive collection and the new tracks will be incorporated into Playlists for you on the next automatic update.

How often do they automatically update?

You should see an update every few days as long as you are an “active” user (meaning you’ve played some tracks in Groove Music recently). Otherwise, they update when you add new music to your collection via Groove Music Pass or uploading to OneDrive.

Can I add track recommendations I like in Playlists for you to my music?

Yes, you can easily select the track, “Add to” and then choose “My music” or one of your playlists to save the newly recommended track to listen to later.

How many tracks do I need in my Groove Music Pass or OneDrive collection to get Playlists for you?

This varies based on how varied your tracks are and how many we recognize. But in general, we recommend having 500 or so tracks to get a healthy number of Playlists for you generated.

How do these Playlists for you relate to my own user playlists?

These are recommended Playlists built by Groove for you, and so they are read-only since we’ll be updating them often. However, if you like one, you can always “Save a copy” to your collection of playlists in order to edit, rename, download, etc. before there is an update giving you a fresh set of Playlists for you.

New Your Groove section

There you have it. While the physical app has been updated, most of the Your Groove features and refinement are coming via server side processing. Users should begin to see their Your Groove section fill out as they continue to use the app. The more songs and albums that are listened to and dropped into the Recent sections, the better the curation algorithm put in place by the Groove team will work.

As of today, the app remains the same from a UI standpoint, but over the coming days and behind a few automatic updates, most users (on the Windows 10 Insider Preview Fast Ring release cycle) will begin to see a new section merger with selected playlists and suggestions. Let us know in the comments what you think of this new Groove functionality.