Get the best suggestions on your streaming service
Streaming suggestions that just don’t make sense: it can happen to anyone. Perhaps your kids selected your Netflix profile by accident and spent a few hours watching every cartoon under the sun. You might have a housemate with a passion for watching old school BBC shows on your Stan subscription. You may have gone through a phase of listening to glam metal on Spotify or Google Music and now you never want to hear another hairspray-fueled scream again.
Next thing you know, the algorithm that automatically recommends new content based on your usage history is giving you a ton of stuff that you’re just not interested in. What a headache!
Thankfully, with a few tweaks you should be able to sweep that unanticipated or awkward history under the rug and get your streaming services back on track. We’ve put together a quick guide that will help you get your recommendations back to the way they should be: recommending stuff you actually like!
Netflix suggests titles that may interest you based on your viewing activity, so all you need to do is remove the titles you don’t like from your history. Cleaning up your history is easy-peasy – just follow the steps:
- Open the Netflix app (or go to netflix.com/au on your web browser) and log in.
- Select your profile.
- On the Netflix app, tap More. If you’re on the Netflix website, click your Profile icon in the top right-hand corner instead.
- Select Account.
- Scroll down to “My Profile” and select Viewing activity.
- You’ll see a list of every show and movie you’ve watched in chronological order. Just tap the X icon to remove it from your history. If a TV show is part of a series, you can then tap Remove series to get rid of all the episodes at once.
- Your changes will apply automatically. Keep in mind that your changes may take up to 24 hours to apply across all of your devices.
The recommended content on Stan is based on your viewing history, so adjusting your recommendations is as easy as removing the titles you aren’t interested in. Right now, the Stan Support website advises that this needs to be done on a PC or Mac computer. Here’s what you need to do:
- Open your web browser and log in at stan.com.au.
- Select your profile.
- Hover your mouse over your profile icon in the top right corner and select Watch History from the drop-down menu.
- You’ll see a dashboard of every show and movie you’ve watched on the platform. Just tap the Remove button on each item to remove it from your history.
- That’s all there is to it! Your changes will apply automatically.
Whether you have a free YouTube account or a paid YouTube Red subscription (soon to be renamed YouTube Premium) you can easily edit or pause your viewing history to make sure that there’s no unwanted content in your Recommended Videos section. Simply follow these steps:
- Open your web browser and log in at youtube.com.
- Under “Library”, select History.
- You’ll see a list of every video you’ve watched. Just tap the X icon to remove any unwanted videos from your history. You can also use the search tool on this page if you’re trying to find something specific.
- There are some other handy options on the right hand side of this page – if you’d prefer to start with a clean slate, you can select Clear All Watch History.
- If you’re planning to watch some stuff you’d rather not have saved in your history, hit Pause Watch History. That’ll stop that pimple-popping video coming back to haunt you in the future! Just remember to come back and hit Turn On Watch History once you’re done or your suggestions might get a bit stale.
For more specific instructions for smartphones, and tablets as well as older versions of YouTube, check out this guide.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music has two ways you can improve the music the service recommends to you. First of all, you can use the “Improve Recommendations” feature by doing the following:
- Open the Google Play Music app (or go to google.com/music on your web browser) and log in.
- Click the Menu icon (three horizontal lines) and select Settings.
- Under “General”, hit the Improve Your Recommendations
- You’ll be shown a list of basic music genres. Select the ones you like and then click Next.
- You’ll now see a bunch of artists who create music in your preferred genres. Select all the ones you enjoy and then click Finish.
If that’s not enough and there’s been some regrettable listening in your history, here’s what you need to do:
- Back in the Settings menu, scroll down to “Privacy & location” and hit the Manage button under “Play Music history”.
- This will take you to a page listening every song played and search run using your Google Play Music account. Just tap the three dots icon and select Delete to remove a song or search from your history. You can use the search or filter tools if you’re looking for something specific.
- That’s all there is to it! Your changes will be saved automatically.
Unlike other major music streaming apps, Spotify doesn’t really give you a clear method to reset or revise the algorithm that decides your recommendations. So, what can you do? Here’s some tips that might help you:
- Make sure a Private Listening is switched off – During a Private Session, what you listen to won’t count towards the suggestions in your Discover Weekly playlist, which is a popular choice for Spotify users looking for new tunes to listen to.
- Be sure to make use of the Like/Don’t Play This buttons – When you’re listening to a playlist, you can tap the Like button (a heart or thumbs up) when you’re really enjoying a tune and this lets the algorithm know more about your musical tastes. Likewise, hit the Don’t Play This button (a cancel sign or thumbs down) for songs you don’t enjoy.
- Make your own playlists – In addition to the Like/Don’t Play This buttons, making your own playlists with songs, artists and genres of music that you enjoy can help give your preferred music some more weight when Spotify is giving you more music suggestions.
When you first set up Apple Music, you’re asked to choose some artists and genres of music that you’re into. This information is used along with your listening history and use of the Love/Dislike buttons to suggest new tracks. While you can’t change your listening history, you can change these initial preferences at any time by doing the following on your iPhone or iPad:
- Open the Apple Music app and tap For You.
- Tap your profile icon in the top right-hand corner.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and select View Account > Choose Artists For You.
- Here, you can choose to hit Reset to wipe everything and start from scratch, or you can simply remove unwanted choices and add new ones if desired.
- Hit Done to save your changes.
If you’d prefer to change your settings through iTunes on your computer, or you’re using the Apple Music app on an Android OS smartphone/tablet, you’ll find instructions in this guide – just scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Do you have any more tips on how to improve the recommendations on streaming services? We’d love to hear them in the comments!