I’m a fan of Spotify, a freemium music service which gives listeners access to a collection of over 15 million songs. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy music, but its library is so large that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with options when it comes to putting together playlists or finding new artists.
One solution: “Spotify Search Playlists”. Here are two search tips which can help you quickly find music that gets your head nodding and makes your ears happy.
Most music services allow you to search by artist, a date range, or by a genre. Combining these searches, though, can yield some interesting results.
An example: Let’s just say that there was a person who felt that Prince between 1982 and 1986 was an unstoppable songwriting superhero who, LinnDrum in hand, could make walls sweat with the force and fury of his ridicu-donkulously dirty synth grooves.1 Perhaps this person even wrote an iTunes AppleScript which knocks a star off the ranking of albums not named “Purple Rain”.
Such a person could do the following search in Spotify:
There are a few extraneous results, but this search quickly provides the bulk of music needed to build a playlist of Prince songs written in that time period.
Spotify also allows you to search by record label, which can be a great tactic to find music considered “indie” or “off-the-beaten-path”.
Consider this: Independent or boutique record labels are generally run by music nerds of the highest order. Their love and knowledge of the genre they serve is probably deeper than almost anyone around.
So why not let them take you on a tour of the music and the artists that they love best?
I used this approach a couple of days ago to find some great new music in a genre that I don’t know a lot about. On a recent okayafrica mixtape, there was a track called “Petit Sekou” which had an awesome lo-fi-meets-Isaac Hayes-back-in-the-day quality. I wanted to hear more music like it and, after a quick web search, I found out that the song appeared on a compilation put out by boutique world music label Sterns.
Into my Spotify search box went the following:
Spotify’s search returned a pretty full collection of albums from Sterns and so I added them all to a playlist and hit shuffle.
Using Spotify’s search to follow a song or an album deeper into a label’s catalog is something I’ve done again and again with fantastic results:
- The Sound Of Siam, a crate-diggers delight featuring 1960’s-1970’s Thai funk2 made me want to explore the Soundway catalog of world music.
- I’m a fan of Simon Green (a.k.a., Bonobo). His record label, Ninja Tune, puts out music by dozens of artists creating similarly adventurous electronic and hip-hop music.
- Brooklyn’s Daptone Records is a label who’s name is practically synonymous with modern, Stax-inspired soul music… and so making a Spotify playlist of Daptone tracks is a quick way to introduce yourself to that scene and that sound.
A Note About Genre Searches
In my experience, searching via genre on Spotify isn’t worth the effort. A better approach would be to use the new Spotify Artist Radio app: Just select an artist who is a good example of the genre you’re interested in and then either click “Start Artist Radio” at the top of their artist page or just drag a track to “Radio” in the left sidebar. Spotify will make a radio station of similar music, a la Pandora.