I have to share my latest and greatest obsession: the Discover feature on Spotify!
First a little background info for those of you who might be thinking “Spot-i-what?” Spotify is an online music streaming service. Like Pandora, you can set up a free account and create radio stations based on your music preferences. You can also find almost any song your heart desires using the search feature and create and share playlists with other users. For $10/month, you can upgrade to Spotify Premium and enjoy other benefits like no advertisements, offline mode, and mobile access. (I highly recommend this upgrade).
As the music business moves into uncharted internet territory, companies like Spotify definitely receive criticism from indie and major label artists alike regarding fair pay. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich recently made headlines by pulling their band Atoms for Peace from the service. (More on the controversy here)
Spotify has responded to such criticisms by reminding their adversaries that “Spotify was created as a better, more convenient alternative to piracy. Estimates suggest that around 95% of all music downloads are illegal. Spotify is now monetising an audience the large majority of whom were downloading illegally (and therefore not making a penny for the industry) before Spotify was available.” (from hypebot.com)
As an indie artist, I see both sides of the argument, but definitely favor Spotify to illegal downloading. I like that anyone around the world can stream my music for free, or create their own station for The Lovebirds, or add one of my songs to a playlist that can be subsequently shared with more users. It’s that age-old “free exposure” promise that struggling artists just can’t pass up.
I encourage readers to do their own research and form their own opinions on the matter, (the online music industry is a fascinating, multifaceted, ever-changing subject). Taking off my musician hat for a second, I have to say as a music lover that Spotify is my jam. I listen to it for the majority of my waking hours. I have a playlist for nearly everything (working, writing, different genres I like, songs I want to learn, artists I want to check out, relaxing, entertaining, etc.). I have radio stations galore based on artists I like. Plus, I recently upgraded to the Premium level of service, and it was like trading in a lemon for a Lexus. No car ride will ever be the same, thanks to my phone, Spotify premium and a $10 auxiliary cord from Radio Shack.
I didn’t really think Spotify could get better. And then it did. One day while listening at work, I noticed a tab called “Discover” and clicked on it. Best click of my life! Turns out, Discover is a feature on Spotify that will make new artist suggestions based on the music you’ve been listening to. These suggestions are very targeted and specific to your current listening patterns (a lot less random than the radio feature) and so many of them are spot-on! This feature is like a music-lover’s paradise. Every time I find a new artist I love, I quickly add them to my “Discovery” playlist so I can remember to check out more of their music later. Remember going into music stores and checking out their rotating featured music through headphones? This is like that, times infinity, minus germy shared headphones.
One thing that’s always amazed and saddened me is the sheer amount of musical talent in the world. I think about how many gifted musicians there are in San Diego and I’m amazed that there could be as many talented musicians in cities throughout the world. Then I get sad that I will never get to hear all of that wonderful music. Through Spotify and the Discover feature, I am at least chipping away at a never-ending mass of incredible music. So far, my favorite discovery of all is an English act called “Daughter.” Check ’em out!