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In the Mood for Music: Q&A with Music Editor Ahmed Kamal ‎

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In the Mood for Music: Q&A with Music Editor Ahmed Kamal ‎
written by
Cairo 360

Imagine if your day at work involved checking out the latest album releases and creating playlists that thousands of listeners can enjoy. Sounds like every music fan’s dream job! Our good friends at Deezer, the online streaming services app, gave us a Q&A with its very own Music Editor, Ahmed Kamal; talking about music, mood, as well as Deezer’s latest features.

1) What does a Music Editor do?

A large part of my role has to do with creating playlists, which I see as one of Deezer’s greatest features. Sometimes, people just want to sit back and relax. Maybe you’ve had a long day at work and don’t feel like putting too much thought into choosing what to listen to – you just want something gentle and soothing. All you have to do is select one of our ‘Chill’ playlists, and you’ll instantly have some relaxing tunes to help you unwind.


2) How do you choose the tracks for the playlists?

There is no recipe or golden rule – each playlist has its own identity. Some are data-driven, and others are genre-specific. For mood-based playlists, I rely on my knowledge of the market and people’s listening behaviours. I try to picture the audience and why they would choose to listen to it. What kind of mood am I trying to reflect? Do I want listeners to discover new tracks? Or to find comfort in the familiar? These are just some of the questions I consider.


3) So it’s all about capturing a certain feeling through music?

Yes! Our playlists range from upbeat to melancholy and everything in between. Whether you’re feeling energetic, lazy, romantic, nostalgic, a little bit down, or on top of the world – we’ve got the ideal playlist to suit your mood. This also extends to what you may be doing at the time. For instance, we have workout playlists, party playlists, concentration playlists, and many more.


4) What makes a musical ‘mood’?

Many elements contribute to the mood of a piece of music. In general, I’d say the lyrics, tempo, and instruments used are important. When it comes to Arabic music – and especially Tarab – I take Maqam into consideration. This is the system of melodic modes used in traditional Arabic music. Certain melodies and chord progressions capture different emotions. We find this is true anywhere in the world – music is a universal language that speaks to us all!


5) Do you focus on presenting local music in Deezer’s mood-based playlists? Or are the songs chosen from Deezer’s global library?

One of Deezer’s main pillars is our local hero approach. We want to create playlists that are relevant and reflect the tastes of listeners in each market. For mood-based playlists, this can involve a mixture of local and international songs. With a library of more than 56 million tracks to choose from, we have plenty of each to address every mood!


6) How do markets differ when it comes to playlist consumption?

We see clear patterns, both between regions and different user groups in the same region. In Egypt, younger audiences seem to love playlists more than albums. Since they are exposed to many genres, they like to hop between several different styles of music.


7) How frequently is each playlist updated?

Our playlists are updated as and when required. This can mean every couple of days, weekly, or monthly. It depends on how popular the playlist is, as well as the schedule of new releases. It’s really a mix of art and science.


8) Do you have any tips and tricks on how to get the most out of Deezer and its features?

Make Deezer your everyday companion. Tell it what you enjoy and what you dislike. The more you interact with Deezer, the more it gets to know you. If you find a song or playlist you enjoy, you should tap on the heart button. We also want to know what you dislike, so if you find a song that you don’t enjoy, tap on the dislike button. By doing so, you’re letting us know more about your musical tastes. This improves the recommendations you’ll receive in your ‘Flow’.

The same applies to the profiles of your favourite artists and playlists – if you tap the heart button you’ll receive notifications about the latest new releases, playlist updates, etc. Over time, the app builds a detailed picture of your likes and dislikes, and will connect you to the music it knows you’ll love to hear!


9) How many hours do you spend listening to music?

Honestly speaking, I’ve lost count! I’d say around 40 to 45 hours per week. If I’m not in a meeting, there is music. Even when I’m not optimising playlists or curating content for our channels, music is always there in the background. For me, it’s not about the hours – it’s a labour of love. I’m proud to be part of an editorial team that’s fueled by passion. And if we create playlists that listeners return to time and again, we know we are getting it right.


10) What do you like most about your job?

I can honestly say that I’m truly passionate about music. I love applying my knowledge of different genres to select the best tracks for each mood or situation. It feels very rewarding to know I’m sharing songs that will have an emotional impact and make our listeners happy.


11) Finally, what is your favourite ‘musical mood’?

For me personally, I’d have to say ‘chill’. It just works anywhere, at any time of the day. You could be commuting to work or school, at the office, having a quiet evening at home or relaxing with friends, but you’ll always find something there to enjoy.