More compelling are the middle two playlists. "Suggested" consists, for me, entirely of artists one might recognize from music blogs, many of which I follow on Twitter. "Emerging" (described as "Hidden talent found in the Tweets") is totally baffling -- the algorithm must ascertain that the artists it recommends are just popular enough to be worth hearing but also unfamiliar. I had heard of three of the top ten, including the Virgins, whose seven-year existence means they deserve the "emerging" tag about as much as fun. deserved a "Best New Artist" Grammy. The number one emerging band, Villagers, is a folksy Irish group who just released their second album on Domino.
It's easy to imagine how record labels and publicists might scramble to game the algorithm. At least some programming seems to be based on the prominence of an artist's Twitter account and, though musicians' offstage personalities have always been integral to the reception of their work, a fundamental distinction remains. I can appreciate an indie rocker's sense of humor on Twitter while bemoaning its absence in his music; conversely, I've unfollowed rappers whose bon mots I enjoy hearing on their records but who use Twitter to relentlessly self-promote. The #NowPlaying channel hints at how the algorithms might account for non-tweeting musicians. As more Twitter users begin to tweet their soundtracks, perhaps the different channels will adapt. (Still, they'll remain reliant on Spotify's and Rdio's respective repertoires.) Until then, it might be best to use Twitter for Twitter, and get your music elsewhere.