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Between the Echo Nest and then, via acquisition, Spotify, I spent 12 years doing a slowly mutating job of trying to use data and math and computers to help all the world's music self-organize. It seems to be the unanimous opinion of people who send me nice notes on email and Twitter and LinkedIn that I did valuable things at Spotify and from Spotify, and that laying me off was some combination of corporate error and public tragedy. I don't think this is merely kindness. Over that time I created or improved a lot of things by direct individual effort, including Daily Mix, This Is artist playlists, Fans Also Like, a genre system, fraud and abuse detection, many pieces of Spotify Wrapped, more internal tools and analytics and prototypes than you can probably imagine, and a public web-temple to music exploration and the discovery of joy.  

I am aware, of course, that people telling me they appreciate what I did is a clear and heartening demonstration of empathetic selection bias. If you didn't care about my work, then it isn't news that I'm not going to be doing it, and doesn't require your comment. It's tempting to imagine that there's somebody at Spotify who actually disagrees with this, and has been waiting for years for an opportunity to replace my uncooperative insistence on using math to make musical sense with something more acquiescent, willing to say "content" instead of "music" and celebrate 0.05% average-metric nudges without asking to see the distributions under the averages and stop posing moral objections to profit-margin KPIs.  

But probably it's far worse than that: There was no enemy, there was no purpose. I didn't lose a heroic battle, I lost a meaningless lottery. A no-warning 1500-person layoff probably cannot be done "well". I see co-workers who were also laid off that had been at Spotify for 12, 13, 14 years, and who thus must have been there in the basement with Daniel and Martin at the beginning. If there is anybody who can take a big company back to its resourceful small-company past-life, it's the people who were literally part of it. Surely you don't lay off the people with the very qualities you're supposedly trying to recapture unless you genuinely can't help it. I did a lot more things inside Spotify than things you could see from outside, and the pragmatic corporate arguments against laying me off needn't have invoked the public good at all. Public loss is collateral damage from capitalism operating for capital's sake.  

Meanwhile, here is the situation: everynoise.com is cut off from data updates, and I expect this will not change. The processes I left running are still running, so the missing data is probably all waiting in dark staging servers, wondering when it will finally be summoned into the light. It won't. The Approaching Worms of Xmas will never reach it this year. 2023 Around the World, my deliberate celebration of full calendar years, will have to be gallingly content with 11-month provisional results. Anything static will remain, in its current state.  

My automated playlists, on the other hand, get updated through Spotify-internal systems, and are still operating. I think it's likely that they'll be spared for the holidays, but if you care about any of those, you should take any further updates as gifts. At best, nobody at Spotify will bother to figure out how my automation actually functions, and everything will be left running until they're ready to turn the whole system off again with one big switch. At worst, tomorrow something will break that nobody knows how to fix or even debug, and that will be it. I don't normally claim that fault-tolerant engineering is one of my core competencies, so it will be a minor triumph if my automation survives long enough to get killed.  

I have some time to find a new job, or at least a plan for ongoing health-insurance coverage. My belief in the promise of streaming music is a function of music and humanity, not of Spotify, so certainly my first inclination is to find another way of contributing to its expanding fulfillment of that promise. But of course there's also a part of my brain that occasionally mutters "Um, climate change?" I also have an idea for a second book, which I was going to work on over the holidays, except that I didn't anticipate having to spend some of that time changing present tenses to past in my first book, which still has to survive the next six months of routine cosmic weirdness before it finally exists.  

The job I've been doing, because I did it with personal goals, affected a lot more than my nominal work-hours, and getting myself to stop trying to do it is harder than remote-locking my work laptop, and a lot more complicated. Urges will have to be channeled somewhere. I will probably need a new way to think about my music-listening, and maybe new tools to replace the ones I lost, and I've never been able to listen to music without also writing about it for very long, so I imagine there might be a new form of that, too. But probably not this week. For now I'm going to put Hitsujibungaku on repeat, and try to let the blurry futures resolve a little. I feel basically OK about the last 12 years, I think. They are not invalidated by their sudden end. But I want the next 12 to be better.  

A few of those nice notes that were written (or ranted) in public:
Every Noise at Once Shuts Down? at Kill the DJ
The Day Music Neutrality Died (a bit) at flyctory.
The 6000 Musical Tribes at The Limited Times, which is a translation of Las 6.000 tribus musicales at El País.
Spotify Fired the Wrong Person at Venture Music.
Continue Everynoise at community.spotify.com.
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