When Spotify incorporated its own app platform in 2012, the news was met with a collective online shrug. But over the last year, a number of useful apps have popped up that make music discovery and personalisation easier. Here are some of our favourite picks.
The initial Spotify apps that launched last year were a little bland (curated music magazine lists, weird dating apps). However, when I spent some time with them again recently I discovered a few gems within Spotify's app "store" (click the Apps button in the sidebar to access them). Here are a few that work really well.
Apps Are A Fantastic Discovery Tool
The most obvious use of the Spotify apps is to assist with music discovery, a task many apps perform well. With apps from music titles such as Rolling Stone, Hype Machine, The Guardian and Pitchfork, it's not difficult to find a curated list of some of the best new music hitting the shelves. Simply read a review, click play, and you're listening to an album instantly. It's more handy than you might think.
Of course, music discovery is also about getting into completely new genres, and in a couple of places Spotify really shines. I've dipped my toe into the jazz and classical genres for years, but have always been put off by the complexity of diving in headfirst. For classical music, the Classify app has made it easy for me to peek into its depths without feeling overwhelmed. For jazz, the excellent Blue Note app provides a breakdown of the various subgenres of jazz, a timeline, and lots more information. It's one of the best examples of just what's possible within Spotify.
It's worth spending time finding apps that match up to genres you enjoy or are curious about. These aren't full-time use apps by any means; the bulk of my time is still spent listening to albums. But when I want to explore new music, apps have proven surprisingly helpful.
Apps Can Filter Artist News
I like the idea of webapps and sites that send me news when my favourite artists release a new album or go on tour, but I'm not into signing up for newsletters, alerts or Facebook updates. What's nice about Spotify apps is they exist solely within the Spotify ecosystem. They don't dig into (and through) your social networks. They don't send you 900 emails a week. They just sit there, waiting for you to click on them.
As a result, apps such as Bandsintown Concerts or Seatgeek which scan my library and what I listen to, and then show me which of those bands are playing locally, fit my needs very well. I don't need to like a bunch of bands on Facebook, or follow 30 venues on Twitter. It's all just there.
Spotify's own built-in artist alerts can also be helpful. When an artist you've starred releases a new album on Spotify, you receive a little notification that lets you know. It's simple, but helpful.
While Spotify apps aren't going to completely change the way you listen to music, they do have their uses, as both a discovery tool and a news filter. If you're a Spotify listener, they're worth taking time to check out.