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Music in your genes? Spotify’s turning Ancestry DNA results into custom playlists

Spotify users can now plug Ancestry DNA results into the music streaming service to create genetics-based playlists that include music from the cultures of their ancestors.
Spotify users can now plug Ancestry DNA results into the music streaming service to create genetics-based playlists that include music from the cultures of their ancestors. AP

If you’ve taken an Ancestry genealogy test, you’ve already used the DNA in your saliva to read all about your genetic background.

And now you can listen to that heritage, too.

That’s the promise of a new service from Spotify, which promises to help users of the music streaming service “discover their musical DNA.” Music lovers just have to log into their Ancestry account and opt to connect it to Spotify, according to the genealogy company.

Ancestry’s web page promoting the playlists offers a hint of what’s in store.

Are you Swedish? You might get ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” or the more recent “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn or “Lush Life” by Zara Larsson — all of them Swedes.

Ancestry users of Korean extraction might get the song “Heroine” from K-pop singer Sunmi, or hits from the boy band BTS.

Middle Eastern genes will give users songs like “Djin,” from the Lebanese indie rock group Mashrou’ Leila, or songs from Palestinian artist Jowan Safadi.

“How do we help people experience their culture and not just read about it?” asked Vineet Mehra, Ancestry’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, according to Quartz. “Music seemed like an obvious way to do that.”

Mehra added that Ancestry DNA tests offer “so much more than the stats and the data and the records” — and that includes a connection to the culture associated with users’ newly-discovered heritage, Quartz reports.

Danielle Lee, Spotify’s global head of partner solutions, said the new service is meant to “encourage [Ancestry’s] audience to explore the soundtrack of their heritage,” according to Quartz.

Not everyone who’s used the service has been blown away by the results.

Ashley Reese, a writer for Jezebel, plugged in her Ancestry results to Spotify and said she was excited by Malian singer Oumou Sangaré’s “Diaraby Nene.” Other African music the playlist curated for her was “interesting enough,” Reese wrote.

But the British Isles selections were a letdown, Reese said, pointing to songs like Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine” and a song by Duffy (“Damn, remember Duffy?”)

“The U.K. is regarded as the birthplace of some of the most exciting trends in music, and all I got was a pocket full of sunshine?” Reese said.

After the service went public last week, Mehra said thousands have already signed up, according to Quartz.

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