Despite always having enjoyed a broad spectrum of music I never found myself wanting to sit and genuinely enjoy classical music. I appreciate the intricacies and the talent that goes into the music but it never gripped me. This could be because generally classical musics’ target demographic seems to be an older generation or it could be the good old Scottish education system grinding down any hope of me enjoying classical music with it’s woeful higher music curriculum, not that I’m bitter in any way. However; not too long ago our good pal Spotify threw a curve ball my way when for once the “New Releases” tab featured Philip Glass’ “Glassworks” album instead of the usual slew of chart albums.
Having been an avid Spotify user for the past few years I discovered in a conversation with a friend that I really haven’t been getting the most out of Spotify’s services. How could this be, how could I have Spotify open at almost all times and not know about a crucial part of what it offers its users? In my ignorance I had glossed over the discover and radio tab. It turns out Spotify updates a Discover Weekly playlist that contains 30 songs they think you might like based on what you’ve been listening to. The algorithm they use basically uses other users own playlists featuring songs you listen to in order to form this new playlist.
Perfect! A way to discover new music with no effort required making discovering new music easier and more convenient. Well, not really because this is where the differences between my friend and I differed the results of the playlist. You see he likes old rock music, “dad rock”, stuff that’s considered classics so there’s a firm connection between all the classics already established. My taste however is more contemporary and looks like someone with Parkinson’s threw darts at a chart of music genres and whatever they hit was what I blended together. I also tend to listen to albums rather than playlists which might annoy the algorithm slightly.
So here’s where I began to think about discovering music and how it really isn’t something you can leave up to an algorithm and that’s ok, in fact it adds a bit more depth to the experience. Rather than having a service pigeon hole you into a certain type of music you need to go outwith that service and really explore using every tool out there, and that’s exactly what we’ll do throughout this blog.