Finding the Perfect Spotify System

I was definitely a late comer to Spotify. I only started using it during the summer of my sophomore-junior year of college (2016), at which point most of my fellow classmates had already been using it for several years. Finding myself on a new platform that didn’t follow any of the previous paradigms I was used to I was left struggling to figure out how to organize my music.

So I turned to my friends. This turned out to be, what one might call, a bad move. It turns out the Spotify went through a redesign of they system that you use to organize your music between the time that my classmates started using Spotify and when I started using it. This caused me some confusion.

My findings:

  • other people use ‘starred’ to keep track of songs they really like, and put albums they like to listen to in ‘my music’
  • people use discover weekly pretty frequently to discover more music
  • some users created a ‘discovered weekly’ playlist where they added the entirety of their ‘discover weekly’ every week, before it disappeared into the ether
  • playlists (other than ‘starred’) were used in a variety of ways
    • some users had very ad-hoc ‘best’, ‘more best’, ‘even better’ as they attempted to tackle organization every once in a while and then gave up
    • some users had playlists corresponding to the season (summer, fall, winter) as their tastes evolved
    • some users had several albums in a row on particular playlists that they knew they liked to listen to together
    • some users had playlists corresponding to mood

My problems:

  • I didn’t have a starred playlist! I came in after the Spotify redesign, and was too late to the party :(
  • I don’t particularly like listening to full albums in a row
  • I tend to organize my listening around genres, rather than albums or moods or seasons

After fumbling around for several days, I finally settled down on the following system:

  • My Spotify is centered around my discover weekly. I started using Spotify at a transitional time in my musical tastes, mostly steered by the Spotify discover playlist. Spotify has, so far, done an excellent job of finding new stuff that fits my musical tastes (I don’t like a lot of their default playlists otherwise).
  • ‘My library’ functions as my favorite songs saved from my Spotify discover. I don’t save any other songs. Songs that I listened to in middle school stay on google play music, songs that I listened to in high school stay in Pandora. This leads to a nice separation of responsibilities. It also keeps me from becoming convinced that I need a Spotify premium subscription, since I switch between the different services.
  • At the beginning of every week, I immediately add the entirety of my new Spotify discover playlist to a playlist called ‘spotify discovered’. This allows me to go back and shuffle all the songs that Spotify has ever suggested to me.
  • I spend the rest of the week listening to my Spotify discover several times over. As I listen I sort out which songs I favor, and add those to ‘My Library’. This averages about 1-4 songs a week.
  • Every once in a while I will stumble across a song that I like, but that I don’t want to put in ‘My Library’. Songs that fit this mold usually would be good to listen to only in a certain situation (for example, my playlist called ‘coffeeshop’ is for songs that are great to listen to in the background, but don’t get me pumped up), or belong to a different genre and don’t mesh well with the rest of my library. These songs usually go into their own playlist. The biggest example of these are ‘coffeeshop’ (which I talked about earlier), and some blues songs that I’ve stumbled into and really like, the ‘blues’ playlist.

All that being said, I’m starting to reach some of the breaking points of my setup. My Spotify has really pinned me in to a specific genre - I end up getting a lot of remixes of songs I’ve already heard in my discover. ‘My Music’ has become very long and sometimes I just don’t feel like listening to it, and ‘discovered weekly’ may as well be a Spotify curated playlist for ‘downtempo electronica’. This is where I end up using other services to fill the void. Whenever I don’t feel like listening to my stuff on Spotify I go and find something on Pandora or Google Play Music that will scratch my itch at that moment - or I just don’t listen to music!

Written on April 20, 2017

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