Spotify Will Use Your DNA to Personalize Your Music Playlists

September 28, 2018, 8:05 PM UTC

Music streaming service Spotify will personalize the playlists of subscribers based on their DNA though a partnership with genealogy company Ancestry.

Spotify and Ancestry’s custom playlist generator will choose a range of songs reflecting the cultural music of users’ heritage based on where their ancestors came from. The playlist curation is free, but the genealogy DNA test kit costs around $100.

“It’s so much more than the stats and the data and the records.” Vineet Mehra, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Ancestry, told Quartz. “How do we help people experience their culture and not just read about it? Music seemed like an obvious way to do that.”

If you haven’t taken Ancestry’s at-home saliva DNA test, Spotify can give you your “Musical DNA”, a pie chart breaking down the genres you have listened to on your account. This option requires none of your actual DNA or any information on your heritage, it will just provide you with the makeup of your listening history to give you an idea of the genre and diversity of the music from a particular region. You could end up types of music you’ve never heard before.

For example, providing only my Spotify account login details, I found that my Musical DNA, or my listening history, includes 18% Escape Room, 18% Indie R&B, and 10% Canadian Hip Hop.

A link to order an at-home DNA kit is at the bottom of the MusicalDNA page, encouraging visitors to purchase the kit to receive more tailored results based on your genetic makeup instead of your Spotify account history.

If you have not completed a test and the MusicalDNA isn’t something you’re interested in, you can choose the top five regions from which your ancestors originate to get a close, but not exact playlist based on your heritage.

Quartz reported that since the two companies launched the new service on Sept. 21, over 10,000 people have signed up for a custom playlist. Over 10 million people have taken the AncestryDNA test.

Considering all the privacy breaches and the sale of personal data, forking over your DNA could be frightening. A representative for Ancestry told Vice’s music news site Noisey that this service has users provide Spotify with a list of their ethnic regions, and claimed that data is “not stored on any server.”