Get the Most Out of Your Spotify Account
How a Monthly Listening Routine Can Turn Your Playlists into Time Machines
One of my favorite “side-effects” from listening to music is how a song can induce vivid memories, transporting the listener to the time and place where they first heard it, or a significant moment in their life when that song was playing. Over the better part of 7 years, I have (unintentionally) developed a system that allows me to experience this phenomenon at will.
The creation of this system spawned from my attempt to solve a problem. Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist (and other such regenerating playlists) are a great way to keep your ears supplied with fresh tunes that are customized to your tastes. However, they do have one flaw: they only have a week-long shelf life. The thought of these songs disappearing each week to make room for new ones disturbed me; what if I really liked one of those songs and couldn’t remember what it was later? Or worse — what if a life-changing song was on that playlist and I didn’t get to hear it at all?
Here are the five steps I took to solve this initial problem:
1. If you aren’t already, follow your “Discovery Weekly” and “Release Radar” playlists
- “Discover Weekly” regenerates every Monday
- “Release Radar” regenerates every Friday, and is populated with new songs from artists you listen to / follow
2. At the beginning of each playlist cycle, deposit all songs into 2 playlists (that you create) representing the current month
“Discover Weekly” tracks go here:
“Release Radar” Tracks go here:
- This archives all of the “discovery tracks” for the month so you still have access to them even after the original playlists regenerate the following week
- Songs that you enjoy can be added to a separate playlist (to do this, right click on the song, or tap the 3 dots to the right if you’re on a mobile device)
I use emojis when titling these playlists to make it easier to find them amongst my other playlists.
BE SURE TO “FOLLOW” ARTISTS OF YOUR FAVORITE TRACKS — this will allow you to be notified of their new releases (which should also appear on Release Radar)
4. If a song was particularly stellar, add it into an “all-time favorite tracks” playlist.
- I use 3 playlists to achieve this:
These come in handy when you have some free time and just want to give your ears a break from new music and revisit familiar favorites.
5. (Optional) At the end of the year, combine all monthly favorite playlists into a new playlist
Fun to listen to on “shuffle mode”
Simple enough — I’ve solved the problem of weekly discovery playlists turning over each week, AND created a way to access the songs I was digging on any given month / year. But something was still missing from this process; it felt incomplete.
Expanding Discovery Favorites to “Album Listening”
When I was in college, I had these friends who were really into vinyl and stressed the value of listening to an album from start to finish; allowing yourself to experience the flow and shape of a record, rather than individually judging each track in a vacuum. That really stuck with me. It inspired me to expand upon this “Discovery + Cataloguing” system on Spotify and make time to listen to the full albums from which my favorite discovery tracks originated. Here’s how:
1. Go to a monthly favorites playlist
2. Right click on songs individually (or press the 3 dots if on mobile device)
3.Go to full album
4. Press 3 dots, add album to a new playlist
- Add standout tracks to Monthly Favorites or All-Time-Favorite Tracks playlists as needed.
- Add standout albums to an All-Time-Favorite Albums playlist — again I use 3 tiers
The most noticeable benefit from this expansion (besides being exposed to more great music) is the fact that the “Listen 2 Full Album” playlist functions as an endless supply of music to listen to while waiting for Discover Weekly to regenerate.
I’m embarrassed to admit how much excitement this adds to my daily routine. I’ll peek at the playlist before going to bed each night to see who I get to listen to tomorrow, then I’ll wake up like a kid on Christmas morning, excited to listen to the next album. Yeah I’m a nerd. But I suspect there’s plenty of people out there like me who (A) want to consume as much music as possible in this life, and/or (B) people who experience simple pleasure from structure and organization in general. This is basically like meal-prep for music consumption.
Spotify has a 10,000 song cap on playlists (don’t ask me why), so you may have to make new playlists as each one fills up.
I take a couple of extra steps to work against both this 10,000 song cap and bloated playlists used for “active discovery listening”:
7. (Optional) After listening to an album, deposit all of its tracks to a new playlist to archive and record the albums you listened to that month
8. (Recommended) Delete songs from “Listen 2 Full Album” playlist after you listen to, and move those tracks to their respective “monthly archive playlists”
- Slows the filling of the playlist
- Saves A LOT of time scrolling and searching for where you left off listening — your next unheard song is always at the top
Develop a Listening Schedule
Discovering new music is a wonderful thing… BUT — it’s important to make time to re-listen to old favorites (or new favorites) — otherwise, we would never get to experience the magical “time-traveling” quality that music possesses! I also enjoy designating certain days to entire genres that I don’t listen to enough. This way I get all of my “musical vitamins” so to speak.
Here’s what my schedule looks like:
Sunday — Jazz / Classical / Motown (rotate weeks)
Monday — Discover Weekly
Tuesday — Listen 2 Full Albums
Wednesday — Listen 2 Full Albums
Thursday — ANYTHING (time travel day)
Friday — Release Radar
Saturday — Listen 2 Full Albums
Do I break away from the schedule sometimes? Of course! If I get the urge to listen to a particular song or artist, I’m going to listen to them. I don’t see any benefit to suppressing sudden musical cravings when they arise. What I’m trying to do is prevent “listener stagnation” — those times where you are stuck on an endless rotation of the same artists, albums, and songs; wanting to hear new music, but not knowing where to look.
And now, my final tip to get the most out of Spotify…
Take Advantage of the Social Media Feature
Follow all of your friends & contacts on Spotify. Raid their public playlists and insert those songs into a playlist where you can listen, catalogue, and expand to “album listening” when desired.
I also really like Instagram’s integration of Spotify links into “stories”. You can take a screenshot of a song your listening to, add it on your story, and I can click on it and Spotify opens and immediately starts playing that song.
With that, here’s a shameless plug to my Spotify Profile where you can follow me and see my chaotic playlists in action. Thanks for reading, and happy listening!