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All those Apple Music playlists are produced by just a dozen people

Reuters/Toby Melville
By Amy X. Wang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Personalization is the future of music streaming. At this point, it’s not a question of who first had the idea of winning listeners’ hearts with killer playlists, but who’s now going to do it best.

Amongst subscription services, Spotify still sits as a fan favorite, with its mesmerizing Discover Weekly feature, its 4,500 company-made playlists, and a team of 50 human curators behind it all. Yet newcomer Apple Music—Spotify’s little sibling in every way till now—appears determined to plow ahead of its rival.

Apple Music has managed to churn out 14,000 playlists in its single year of existence, according to a recent Buzzfeed profile on digital music curation. What’s more: It’s done so with only a dozen employees, all of whom have “embarked on a never-ending quest to organize every song in history into concise playlists that you can’t live without.” The team is led by Scott Plagenhoef, the former editor-in-chief of Pitchfork, and based in Culver City, California. 

Since most music services offer the exact same price points, features, and song catalogs to listeners, who can blame Apple for getting desperate about differentiation?

To its credit, the service has done pretty well for itself thus far: Apple Music has snared more than 13 million paying subscribers, compared to Spotify’s 37 million subscribers—and the latter company had a seven-year head start. As it stands, the two platforms are emerging as the clear forerunners in the streaming race.

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