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What Is Spotify Radio & How Does It Work? (Explained!)

By Matthew Vultaggio

December 8, 2023

Whether you are a listener who wants better music recommendations or you’re an artist wanting to get your songs on Spotify Radio: I’ve personally researched this topic, released my own music as an artist on Spotify, and found the answers for you.

Spotify Radio is a personalized playlist automatically created for you to find very similar music based on any artist, album, playlist, or song that you select on Spotify. These playlists are consistently updated over time to stay current and contain 50 tracks on average.

Spotify Radio playlists are available for both Free and Premium users and are automatically created for any artist, album, playlist, or song that is available on Spotify. Other Spotify algorithm playlists that are similar to Radio include Release Radar, Discover Weekly, and Daily Mix.

As an artist on Spotify myself, a massive chunk of my streams has actually come from Spotify Radio, making it incredibly valuable for both artists and listeners alike:

A look at how many streams have come from Best Friends Club’s Spotify Radio playlists

To learn more about Spotify Radio including how it and the algorithm work, as well as how you can train the algorithm to send you better songs (or even get free streams for your OWN music), simply keep on reading, my friend. 🙂

How Does Spotify Radio Work?

Spotify Radio works by combining your personal listening habits with the Spotify algorithm’s massive amounts of data. It can then instantly create a personalized playlist for you made up of similar songs based on the artist, album, playlist, or song that you have selected or listened to.

The Spotify algorithm will look at your listening habits as well as the listening habits of the users who listen to the artist, album, playlist, or song you have selected to create a Spotify Radio playlist made up of about 50 songs.

To start a Spotify Radio playlist on the desktop app, mobile app, or web browser:

  1. Open the Spotify app or web browser
  2. Go to any song, album, artist or playlist
  3. Select the 3 horizontal or vertical dots
  4. Select ‘Go to song/album/playlist/artist radio’ or ‘Start song/album/playlist/artist radio’

Remember: Depending on where on Spotify you are creating the Radio playlist, the option will either say “Go to” or “Start” and will only mention the type you are selecting (ie: Start playlist radio or Go to song radio).

Spotify Radio also automatically begins if you have “AutoPlay” enabled in your Spotify app when the song, album, or playlist you are listening to no longer has any new songs for you to hear.

It is also possible to save any Radio playlist to your library by clicking on the heart icon next to any Artist, Album, or Song Radio playlist.

Here is an example of what it looks like to start a playlist radio:

What To Click To Start A Spotify Radio Based On A Playlist

Here is an example of what it looks like to go to a song radio:

What To Click To Start A Spotify Radio Based On A Song

Is Spotify Radio Free Or Do You Need A Premium Account?

Spotify Radio is not only for Premium users. Spotify Radio playlists are free to use for all Spotify users and a Premium account is not needed to enjoy any Spotify Radio playlist.

What is the difference between Radio and Playlist on Spotify?

Spotify Radio is a personalized collection of songs based on the song, album, or playlist that the user chooses while a Spotify Playlist is a collection of songs created by a Spotify user.

Can you turn a Spotify Radio into a playlist?

You can turn a Spotify Radio into a playlist by either clicking the heart icon next to it to save that Radio playlist to your library or by selecting all the music from your “Play Queue” and then adding it to a new playlist or the playlist of your choosing.

Does Spotify have live AM/FM radio stations?

Spotify does not currently have any AM/FM radio options and have stated that they do not have any plans to offer an AM/FM radio options to the Spotify app at this time.

Why does Spotify keep playing Radio?

Spotify Radio automatically begins after your song, album, or playlist is finished if you have “AutoPlay” enabled in the Spotify app.

You can enable or disable “AutoPlay” by heading over to the Settings area of the Spotify app, navigating to Playback, and then adjusting the AutoPlay feature.

The Spotify Radio Algorithm Explained

Spotify radio works by creating personalized playlists using the Spotify algorithm. Here’s an explanation of how that algorithm makes Spotify radio work:

The Spotify radio algorithm looks at your listening habits as well as the listening habits of the users who listen to the artist, album, playlist, or song you have selected to create a Spotify Radio playlist made up of about 50 songs.

Spotify has a growing number of algorithmic playlists like Spotify Radio that are customized and personalized for each specific Spotify user.

Because these algorithmic playlists are customized for each user based on their listening habits, they are likely to have some great music in them.

This is an example of how the Spotify algorithm works:

For example, no 2 Radio playlists are the same because no 2 Spotify user’s are the same.

Everyone has unique listening habits and the Spotify algorithm takes that into account to provide the best song recommendations possible for each unique Spotify user.

However, the Spotify algorithm does look at the listening habits of other similar users to provide song recommendations.

For example, let’s assume Spotify User A has similar listening habits (artists, songs, times of listening, etc) to Spotify User B.

If Spotify User A starts listening to a new song, and Spotify User B has not yet listened to that new song. The Algorithm will notice that Spotify User B may enjoy this new song and might add this new song to one of Spotify User B’s algorithmic playlists.

How To Fix The Spotify Algorithm

If you’ve ever tried listening to some music you don’t normally listen to, you may notice that Spotify may start recommending you more of that music even if that is not what you really want to listen to.

Thankfully, you can use your knowledge of Spotify’s streaming rules to fix the Spotify algorithm and get better song recommendations.

Here are the top 6 ways to fix the Spotify algorithm to give you better music:

  1. Listen to more of music in the style of what you want to hear more of
  2. Like songs and playlists (by hitting the heart button) in the style you want to hear more of
  3. Add those songs to your own playlists
  4. Go to the profile of artist’s you like and hitting the follow button
  5. Make sure you listen to the songs you want more of past the 30 second mark
  6. Avoid hitting the “skip” button on style’s you want to hear more of

Follow those tips and you should be able to train the algorithm to give you more of what you want. 🙂

Before we take a closer look at the Spotify algorithm more broadly, it’s important to know the difference between Spotify Radio & Spotify Stations…

Spotify Radio vs Spotify Stations: What Happened To Spotify Radio In 2022?

Spotify Stations was a separate app created by Spotify that allowed users to listen to music through a list of radio stations which was different from the on-demand library of songs, artists, albums, and playlists on the standard Spotify app.

What made Spotify Stations unique was the fact that the stations could be resumed from where the point in the radio broadcast as you switch between stations or leave the Spotify Stations app.

Spotify Stations was shut down on May 16th, 2022 because the company felt it was an experiment they did not want to continue with and instead encourage users to use the standard Spotify app where they can find a similar radio experience.

The main difference between Spotify Stations and Spotify Radio is that Radio is a series of personalized playlists based on what song, album, or playlist the user chooses while Stations is much more like a traditional radio broadcast.

The Spotify Algorithm Explained

The main purpose of the Spotify algorithm is to provide great song recommendations to its users so that those users spend as much time on Spotify as possible.

So why is this?

The more time a user spends inside the Spotify app, the more opportunities Spotify has to:

  • Sell advertisements
  • Keep users happy with paying for the Premium subscription
  • Tell investors their numbers are great so that Spotify continues to get external investment money

A good comparison to Spotify’s algorithm is the Google and YouTube algorithms.

The purpose of the Google and YouTube algorithms is to give you the most valuable content so that you stay on the platform and spend as much time on that platform as possible.

THIS is how you can get FREE streams from Spotify if you are an artist yourself:

These platforms have their own goals, and by helping THEM achieve THEIR goals, only then will YOU be rewarded.

Whether that reward is YouTube views, Google search results, or Spotify Streams.

In the example of Spotify, Spotify may start to reward you with placements in algorithmic playlists and the increase in positive numbers overall will also inevitably catch the attention of Spotify editors, which may lead to lucrative Editorial playlists in the future, which then leads to a big increase in your Spotify royalties.

How To Get Your Music On Spotify Radio With The Spotify Algorithm Hack

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Click here to see a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 5,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist (called Best Friends Club).

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission. 🤗

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

"Copy/Paste" Your Music Promotion with The FREE Checklist I Used To Get 3,000,000+ Spotify Streams

Get your 7-step checklist for FREE: