A few weeks ago I posted a message on Facebook: please help me find new music. I live for new music and by new I mean stuff I have never heard before, that are not mainstream and more out of the box. I am that person who knows the bands in the tiny print on the festival announcements. Or as my friend posted: “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet”. That is something I’ve done for years and when my SD Card crashed last fall, I figured that I would move on to Spotify. Now, 6 months later I’m seriously debating unsubscribing from the service and as of this week I’m back to using an SD card for playing music on the go.
Why I stopped using Spotify
So why did I try using Spotify in the first place? Mainly because I had heard many great things about it. As a music junkie, getting almost all the music in the world for a mere 10 euros a month sounds like heaven. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be. At least not for me. If you love Spotify, then keep on using it, but as of right now, apart from listening to the latest albums, the service has nothing to offer me.
My first reason for no longer using Spotify is the fact that despite using the service, I still had to ask my friends for suggestions. Spotify did not play me any new music. No matter how much I fed the algorithm, the suggestions I was given were always the same or very similar to what I was already listening to. The biggest annoyance? The fact that playlists with supposedly ‘new’ music played me songs I had already known for 2 years.
Secondly, the playlists the service generates based on what you listen to were extremely mediocre. Even playlists such as Release Radar and Discover Weekly couldn’t scratch my itch. I listen to music for several reasons and whenever I had listened to a particular song to try out some dance techniques I suddenly got songs by those artists as suggestions to listen to, while they aren’t of any particular interest to me. The math behind the calculations can only do one type of math and Spotfiy does not allow you to section off music. And I like making different playlists to categorize different types of music for different moods, situations and times of day.
Talking off playlists, I liked, added and created several. That led to a whole new scale of problems for me. Let’s start off with the already existing playlists. I liked some, but most I disliked. The coffee corner one was alright, as were the 80s and 90s playlists that I found on one random afternoon. I tried many others, mostly ones with new music. Unfortunately those were always made for specific geographic locations, giving me lots of new, Dutch music that just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was new sure, but it wasn’t the kind of new that I wanted to listen to.
My biggest reason for disliking Spotify is when I tried uploading my own playlist. This is possible. However, once you disconnect your device, or if you listen to the playlist on a different device, anything not recognized by Spotify is no longer playable. When I uploaded my main playlist, carefully curated over the course of more than a decade, 25% of the songs I loved were not accessible. I quickly found out that if I did a manual search that I would be able to find more. So I spent a full day cleaning up the list, but was still left with close to 200 songs that just aren’t there.
At first I figured, it is okay, what’s 200 songs? But as I started playing the songs, mainly via my phone I found out the shuffle function kept playing the same songs over and over again and the main way I listen to music is through the shuffle function of a playlist. On my phone, the playlist reset itself nearly every day, which was part of the problem. But also the fact that I couldn’t mix playlists together. This made the blend of music I could listen to even more limited.
In short, after months of trying, I felt that I just wasn’t getting what I was looking for. When I read this article on Pitchfork, it finally clicked and I knew that it wasn’t me who wasn’t able to find new music. It is the functionality of Spotify, combined with an algorithm that only aims to promote 1% of already popular music that irked me.
So I have decided to no longer use Spotify for listening to music via playlists, only albums as it is a quick and easy way to access the latest album releases. But when it comes to listening to music, I have found that my way of listening to music is not supported by Spotify and until it does support that type of music listening, I will not quickly return. Of course, it all depends on your personal preferences and mine currently do not line up.
How do you listen to music?