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How to “hack” Spotify to discover more music
Spotify has been doing it’s damnedest to be the music friend you always wanted — the one who continuously puts you onto artists you never would have discovered on your own. For many, Discover Weekly has become a trusted music friend, blessing inboxes every Monday with a 30 song, two hour playlist.
I don’t know about you, but those 30 songs on Monday are never enough to last me through the week. By Wednesday I’ve usually run that two hour playlist through at least three times.
To fill in the void between Mondays, I started playing around with Spotify to find other ways to use the product to discover new music. Sure, Spotify has an endless trove of Playlists to browse through, but I was looking for something more tailored to my listening habits.
The following are a few tricks I’ve uncovered for how to use their algorithms to serve up exactly the type of music you’re looking for.
Tip 1. “Hack” the playlist recommendations to find new artists
Spotify has a relatively new feature on desktop that recommends songs to add to your playlist, called Recommended Songs. The recommendations use Spotify’s pretty excellent algorithms to analyze the songs you already have in the playlist and suggest songs with a similar flavor.
I would argue there’s a better, or, alternative way to use this feature: as a hack to discover new music.
Recommended Songs are a great way to discover new artists specifically in the vibe or genre you’re looking for because your playlist vibe will determine the type of recommendations you find. Rather than using Recommended Songs as a way to add songs to playlists, I use it as a personalized discovery engine for new artists.
When I’m in the mood to find new music, I often go to one of my playlists and scan the Recommendations section for names I don’t recognize. If I like the recommended song, then I head to the artist page and start listening to their other tracks. Before you know it, you might have an entirely new discography to consume!
Take advantage of the Refresh button in the top right. You can refresh the Recommendations multiple times, looking for songs or artists that you don’t recognize.
Tip 2. Clone your playlist to get a two for one deal
One day I went looking for the Playlist Radio button and realized I had never actually read the full drop-down menu hidden behind the kitchen sink that is the “…” button. As I was skimming the contents I noticed “Create Similar Playlist.” Turns out this is a playlist cloning feature.
I’m referring to this as cloning because it takes the DNA of your original playlist and mimics it. If you have a 9 song playlist, it will give you a new 9 song playlist with a similar vibe of music. If you have a 426 song playlist (which I actually do have), it seems to cap out at 199 songs. Which, to be fair, is still 14 hours of music.
The playlist cloning feature is only available on desktop . To access it, all you have to do is go to the magical ellipses button (…) and scroll to the “Create Similar Playlist” option and voila, you will have a new playlist with a similar vibe, yet completely different songs.
NOTE: If you have a playlist that’s all one artist and are hoping to use this to make another playlist by the same artist, this feature won’t do that. It will make you a playlist with a similar vibe, but it won’t give you a playlist that only features one artist.
It would be nice for Spotify to add a feature that responds to a playlist that feature only one artist. It’s common enough user behavior for people to create their own greatest hits playlist from their favorite artist.
Tip 3. Extend your Discover Weekly beyond 30 songs
While Discover Weekly absolutely does solve the paradox of choice, it doesn’t solve the “I’ve already listened to this three times through and I want more” problem. That’s where the Playlist Radio comes in.
If you feel like Spotify is already delivering you a nice mix of the genres you’re into, head to that infamous ellipses again and look for the “Go To Playlist Radio” button. This feature gives you a somewhat endless extension of your Discover Weekly playlist, and ideally a much wider net for you to discover new songs and artists you’re into.
If you don’t feel like Discover Weekly is giving you what you want, then either tailor your listening habits (since it’s based on that) or just rely on the aspects of Spotify that you can immediately control—your self-made playlists and use the Playlist Radio feature there instead.
4. BONUS: Use Touch Preview to “peek” into songs
One fun feature I accidentally discovered in the Spotify app lets you preview the songs in a playlist or album without having to open it and individually click on each song.
To access Touch Preview, Hold down on the album or playlist and the songs will pop out as thumbnail images. Swipe your finger across the images to preview clips from the song.
What I love about this feature is that it cuts to the middle of the song, rather than the beginning. You know how so many songs start off slow and then you have to jump ahead to either see if you recognize the song? This feature takes that into account and drops you right in the middle, just where you need to be.
What the hell do I know about music discovery?
I’ve been a music head my entire life. I used to sit by my boom box in my room for hours, glued to the radio with my finger ready to hit record on my cassette tape the second a song came on that I liked. When iTunes came out, and I was bestowed with the power to physically control where and how songs existed in my library, I obsessively created playlists. Playlists of all kinds, but mostly playlists based on mood.
Before I got into Spotify, I lived and died by the iTunes Smart Playlist. I can relate so deeply to this article about how iTunes broke my meticulous system. However, the upside of Apple de-prioritizing iTunes is that it forced me to prioritize a new system (hi Spotify👋🏽) and how to maximize it for my listening gain.
I have a toolbox of hacks for finding music that extends well beyond Spotify. If the reaction to this post is positive, maybe I’ll reveal some of my other tricks as well 🙃.