The Reason Spotify Shuffles Aren’t Really Random (and How to Fix It)

Photo:  Kaspars Grinvalds (Shutterstock)
Photo: Kaspars Grinvalds (Shutterstock)

I may be listening to Taylor Swift’s Midnights on repeat this month, but I enjoy a good shuffle like anyone else. It’s a great way to rediscover music in your library you haven’t listened to in a hot minute. Sometimes, it’s nice to kick back, relax, and let probability take over.

However, if you often shuffle on Spotify, you might pick up on something odd. Spotify shuffles don’t feel totally random. In fact, they seem more curated than anything. Rather than hearing a mix of songs, you might hear similar ones, if not the same ones, over and over. What gives?

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As it turns out, Spotify purposely puts a finger on the shuffle scale. In its view, shuffles should be seamless. It doesn’t like songs that are totally different bumping up against one another. Instead, it thinks songs should be similar, and blend into one another. In effect, it plays as a digital DJ, so you are never subjected to a jarring transition from one song to the next.

In some cases, that’s a welcome feature. It sure sounds nice when back-to-back songs are similar. But most of us use the shuffle feature because we want random songs to play. Intentionally picking only songs that match each other means there are plenty of tracks that never see the light of day, and other songs that play much more frequently.

The other issue is this feature is enabled by default: You’ll try using shuffle thinking Spotify is randomizing your playlists, not realizing the game was rigged from the start.

How to force Spotify to randomly shuffle your music

To fix the problem, you’ll need to disable the feature in question: Automix. On iPhone or Android, go to the in-app settings, then chose “Playback.” On desktop, click your profile, then choose “Settings.” On all platforms, tap the toggle next to Automix to disable it.

If you find yourself missing your Spotify DJ, you can always enable Automix again using the steps above. After all, random really is random. You never know what’s going to play.

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