A prevalent practice in recommender systems consists in averaging item embeddings to represent users or higher-level concepts in the same embedding space. This paper investigates the relevance of such a practice. For this purpose, we propose an expected precision score, designed to measure the consistency of an average embedding relative to the items used for its construction. We subsequently analyze the mathematical expression of this score in a theoretical setting with specific assumptions, as well as its empirical behavior on real-world data from music streaming services. Our results emphasize that real-world averages are less consistent for recommendation, which paves the way for future research to better align real-world embeddings with assumptions from our theoretical setting.
This paper introduces Track Mix, a personalized playlist generation system released in 2022 on the music streaming service Deezer. Track Mix automatically generates "mix" playlists inspired by initial music tracks, allowing users to discover music similar to their favorite content. To generate these mixes, we consider a Transformer model trained on millions of track sequences from user playlists. In light of the growing popularity of Transformers in recent years, we analyze the advantages, drawbacks, and technical challenges of using such a model for mix generation on the service, compared to a more traditional collaborative filtering approach. Since its release, Track Mix has been generating playlists for millions of users daily, enhancing their music discovery experience on Deezer.
Music streaming services often aim to recommend songs for users to extend the playlists they have created on these services. However, extending playlists while preserving their musical characteristics and matching user preferences remains a challenging task, commonly referred to as Automatic Playlist Continuation (APC). Besides, while these services often need to select the best songs to recommend in real-time and among large catalogs with millions of candidates, recent research on APC mainly focused on models with few scalability guarantees and evaluated on relatively small datasets. In this paper, we introduce a general framework to build scalable yet effective APC models for large-scale applications. Based on a represent-then-aggregate strategy, it ensures scalability by design while remaining flexible enough to incorporate a wide range of representation learning and sequence modeling techniques, e.g., based on Transformers. We demonstrate the relevance of this framework through in-depth experimental validation on Spotify's Million Playlist Dataset (MPD), the largest public dataset for APC. We also describe how, in 2022, we successfully leveraged this framework to improve APC in production on Deezer. We report results from a large-scale online A/B test on this service, emphasizing the practical impact of our approach in such a real-world application.