Now that most streaming music services offer a massive selection of 30 million tracks, the challenge for consumers is discovering new stuff they want to hear. Spotify has a new take out called Rewind, first spotted by VentureBeat, which will generate playlists, one for each of the last five decades, based on three of your favorite modern artists.
I picked Major Lazer, Miguel, and the rather obscure Lijadu Sisters. In return I got five very short playlists, a couple with just five songs each. The track selection was right on the money, if a little obvious. When Apple released its new music service, the company emphasized again and again that its human curators would triumph over services that rely on software. But Spotify proved this morning that it can surprise and delight without any human help.
History is a great lens for music discovery
I've always thought that a historical approach to music discovery and curation was a neglected one. Before Spotify came along, one of my favorite tricks for finding new music, besides recommendations from friends, was to take one artist I liked and research them on a service like AllMusic.com. From there I would track down influences from the past and acts that followed in the footsteps of the bands I already knew and enjoyed.
Spotify killed off its selection of third-party apps, which makes me sad. I understand why; most were rarely updated and many felt stale or broken. But I got a lot out of the ones created by BlueNote and Def Jam, which let you browse through the catalog with a chronological bent. I would love a feature that lets you start a radio station but then limits the following tracks by decade or year.
Hopefully one of many new Spotify apps
Hopefully Rewind moves beyond an unannounced web plaything and gets incorporated into Spotify's desktop and mobile apps with even more granular options. As competition heats up in the streaming music space, it's efforts like this that will ensure I stick with Spotify as my service of choice.