What To Read: Arjun Mahesh is refreshing your playlist

This week, we interviewed Arjun Mahesh, who writes 3 by 7, a publication that recommends three good songs to listen to every week.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What’s your Substack about in one sentence?

I send you a curated set of three songs every seven days.

What inspired your simple, straightforward format?

I believe music discovery was at its prime in 2007-2013, when it was driven by bloggers and online forums. Spotify’s playlists and algorithm were great for a while, but they’ve gotten pretty cold. All the big playlists are pushing safe artists that are either signed already or have larger fan bases, and my experience with recommendations like Discover Weekly is that the algorithm has put my musical taste in a pretty small box.

There’s also such a massive pool of recommendations and playlists that it is overwhelming for the casual listener to parse the literal noise. People are more excited by music recommendations when they can feel the enthusiasm coming from somebody they trust, so 3 by 7 is my effort to bring back the personality behind music discovery, while keeping it shortform and focused for modern consumers.

“The algorithm has put my musical taste in a pretty small box.”

What goes into your weekly song selection?

It’s really a free-for-all. I usually think about my audience and try to spotlight up-and-coming artists who they might not have discovered yet, but honestly, I try not to stick too closely to one formula because the unexpected nature of the curation is what makes it authentic and human for me. Songs are inspired by my mood, the weather, a concert or show I went to, a meal I had, a place I visited, pop culture, etc.

Read: Three songs to dance to this weekend.

How much does having a great music video factor into a song’s selection?

A good music video is a nice bonus, but it doesn’t make much of a difference in whether or not I decide to feature a song. That being said, music videos are a really effective tool for painting a portrait of the artist to my audience, and I think new creators recognize the importance of using strong visuals to connect with their fan bases.

What’s one song you’ve featured that you still can’t stop listening to?

“Waiting” by Jengi. It’s just such a mood booster, and a standout take on the recent resurgence of disco and funk in music and fashion.

Who’s another Substack writer you’d recommend?

Ariel Norling’s I Know a Spot for my home aspirations and Casey Lewis’s After School for keeping in touch with youth culture.

Subscribe to Arjun’s publication, 3 by 7, and find him on Twitter, Bandcamp, and his website.