This article originally appeared on Motherboard Germany.
With over 30 million songs and close to 1,500 genres, it's no wonder that Spotify has become the go-to app for music connoisseurs the world over. One of Spotify's main selling points is its ability to help its 140 million users find new music that matches their taste, which is why the company has been pumping millions of dollars into acquiring AI-fueled tech dedicated to this purpose.
Nevertheless, a number of users feel that finding new artists on Spotify and curating playlists is still too tedious. But this likely has more to do with user error than the app itself. By taking advantage of a suite of native and third-party Spotify extensions, music aficionados can bring their music streaming game to a whole new level.
Free yourself from Spotify's suggested songs tool and write your own playlist programs
Without a doubt, playlists are the heart and soul of Spotify. If properly curated, they can provide the right musical backdrop to any situation in your life. But doing so requires time and effort to manually create the playlist or browse through Spotify's suggested songs. But it doesn't have to be this way—if you take a systematic approach to the issue and make use of a few smart tools, you can master playlists in mere minutes. With Smarter Playlists, the external browser-based Spotify extension, you can create your own customizable playlists. It's really easy: Choose sources for your songs—for example, an Artist Radio, an album, or a pre-existing playlist. From there, use a filter to decide which songs shouldn't be included, whether that's because they're too fast, not danceable enough, or too short. You can also decide how many songs from each source you want to include in your playlist.
You can then select a way to determine how the different sources should be included on the playlist—for example, by playing only one song from each source. Once the playlist is ready, you can import and save it on Spotify. You also can generate new variations on the same playlist by using the "conditionals" tool on the left side of the menu. For example, you could decide that a certain artist never appears on that playlist during the weekend.
Order, order: Make your playlists more emotional, danceable, or just louder
You can sort and thematically extend your playlists using the Sort Your Music tool. Just like Smarter Playlists, it was created by Spotify's developer Paul Lamere, and it has a lot of data power—primarily because Sort Your Music accesses an intelligent music platform called The Echo Nest. Harnessing information from over 1.3 billion data points, The Echo Nest's algorithms are able to evaluate every single Spotify song according to certain parameters. You can arrange playlists based on attributes you didn't even know Spotify tracked or made available to you, such as:
- Beats per minute (BPM): The tempo of a song
- Energy: Echo Nest measures how energetic a song is
- Valence: A song's positive mood
- Popularity: An attribute attached to Spotify's own algorithm that determines the popularity of a recent song
With Sort Your Music, you're able to let Echo Nest influence your playlist and organize your songs according to certain parameters. Should you choose to reorganize your playlists, they'll never be overwritten but saved as a copy.
Once you've made your own playlists or edited new ones, you can organize your music with the Organize Your Music tool. You can also use filters in searches that allow you to view the date you saved the song to a playlist, or when they were written. Let Spotify only show you songs of a certain genre, or organize your songs based on their respective popularity. Since Organize Your Music also uses The Echo Nest's settings, you can organize songs by their mood or timbre as well. As an added bonus, you can merge filters and view them as a cool graphic.
Send secret messages through playlists
A playlist can include more than the songs saved on it. With Acrostify, you can automatically create playlists with a secret message spelled out as an acrostic message where the first letters of each song form the words.
Find better new music, and have more fun doing it
Spotify only suggests 20 new artists that resemble your current favorites, which we think is woefully inadequate. Fortunately, the Spotify Artist Network, created by Bernhard Rieder, an Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam, has much more to offer. In a playful way, you can discover and explore new singers based on your favorite musicians. It's aesthetically pleasing, too: It visualizes an entire network of similar artists and lets you see how popular they currently are on Spotify.
The Artist Explorer tool is similar, but also features a sample of up to ten songs in addition to the artist's popularity. While Spotify already has several functions for discovering new music, there's room for improvement. The "Your Mixtape" feature randomly shuffles familiar music, and the "Discover Weekly" playlist allows any music lover to find something they like, but there's many people who complain about the lack of new inspiration. Fortunately, Redditor hjbardenhagen has found a way to work around this. Spotify users with Last.fm accounts—in the scrobbling service's heyday, that was approximately 40 million listeners—can import their Last.fm listening history into Spotify using Spotlistr. Hjbardenhagen believes this will prevent your Last.fm history from showing up in "Discover Weekly." Last but not least, there's a tool that can help you find new music without fail: Forgotify, a database containing all the sad songs from Spotify's archive that have never been played by anyone.
No more searches: Get rid of Spotify's most annoying functions
Nothing makes Spotify users despair like the app's search function and its perplexing results. Fortunately, it's actually pretty easy to expand your search with effective operators like "artist:", "year:", or "label:". You can find an overview of all Spotify's operators and their respective functions here.
It's all in your hands: The most important keyboard shortcuts for Spotify
No matter how confusing the dashboard and menu might seem to you, Spotify's keyboard shortcuts are extremely useful. Here's a full list of keyboard shortcuts to save you time (and preserve your nerves).
Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.