Tracing Affordance and Item Adoption on Music Streaming Platforms

This article by Dougal Shakespeare and Camille Roth has been presented at ISMIR’21: the 22nd International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference in November 2021.

Following an active sample of Deezer users over a 2-year observation period, this study examines how music streaming platform users adopt on two fronts: (1) adopting affordances – we distinguish organic (O), algorithmic recommendation (A) and editorial curation (E); (2) items therein. By item adoption, we mean the transfer of items across affordances. For instance, a user who has been algorithmically recommended an item now listens to this item organically, that is, autonomously.
By assuming & confirming the diversity of user behaviour this work traces the interconnected, surprisingly sequential factors which drive affordance and item adoption. For one, the way users consume content during the day varies with respect to affordance adoption practices. It also find strong connections between affordance and item adoptions – for instance, users who favour an affordance display lower item adoption rates but on contrary, this makes a greater impact to their overall O catalogue.

The results paint a complex picture of user platform behaviour whereby time-of-day preference mediates low-level platform behaviour (activity levels) while affordance adoption preference mediates the ultimate higher-level organic user decision to adopt music into one’s organic catalogs. Coming full circle, the heterogeneity of item adoption and its impact brings into question the nature of what constitutes an organic stream – after taking into consideration the role of adoption, users are indeed found to be markedly less organic (and more algorithmic and editorial) than was initially thought. This in turn may redefine what adoption really is. This may be of significance to the emerging branch of literature seeking to appraise algorithmic impact relative to an organic reference.

An open-access post-print is available here.