Spotify continues to go from strength-to-strength. After becoming a growing presence in Europe over the course of several years, it emigrated across the Atlantic to embrace the U.S. The ultimate goal is to span the globe, and while doing so, founder Daniel Ek and his team of developers are trying to endlessly improve the service to ensure it stays ahead of the competition.
That competition is fierce, with Deezer, We7, Rdio (North America), and the legal-but-not-licensed Grooveshark all present in this sector. Spotify is trying to prove itself the ubiquitous service that everyone needs compared to the also-rans people merely want. One of the ways it hopes to achieve this is with apps built around its platform. Which includes the fantastic, new and improved, Spotify Radio.
Spotify recently added apps to its heady mix of streaming music on multiple devices for an affordable price. I’m a big fan of this evolution of the service, and have already recommended five of the most addictive currently available. At the time of writing there are just 15 apps ready to install, but more are promised over the coming months.
One of those that didn’t get a mention in my previous write-up was Spotify Radio, partly because it was already present on the service, and partly because it’s so good I felt it deserved exploring in greater depth.
The new The Echo Nest-powered Spotify radio is a vast improvement on the old Spotify Radio. So much so that I feel the current Internet radio choice of the masses, Pandora, may be finished.
Spotify Radio is, by default, already added to the sidebar along with Top Lists. Both of which were in-built Spotify features before the addition of apps was even considered. But while Top Lists remains the same (barring an extra option to list top tracks and top albums by location) Spotify Radio has evolved.
It used to be a rather lame option which would play music according to the genres and decades (like the awful 80s) you’d selected. It barely worked, and didn’t have a high hit-rate for playing music you’d actually want to hear based on your previous selections.
Now, however, things are different. Open up the Spotify Radio app and you’re faced with a very simple-yet-elegant user interface. It has the current radio station you’re listening to at the top, recent radio stations underneath, and for those without the inspiration to choose their own, popular artists and popular genre radio stations listed at the bottom.
Clicking on any of these will instantly start a new radio station playing. There is also the option to ‘Create New Station‘, with a dropdown search bar giving you instant search results for both artists and individual tracks based on a Google-style autocomplete feature.
By Artist, Track, Or Genre
This is a radio station based on the artist, in this case Metronomy. As Metronomy are an alternative indie band with a very unique sound this will throw up an eclectic mix of artists and songs. And some unknown hidden gems, no doubt.
This is a radio station based on an individual track, in this case Creep by Radiohead. As Radiohead are a British band, other bands from the U.K. will flourish, mostly with songs that are the antipathy of pop. Just as Creep is.
This is a radio station based on a genre, in this case Alternative. Radio stations based on a genre are the most likely to throw up unexpected tracks. Musical genres are vast, and so the list of songs Spotify Radio can choose to play you is vast as well.
As usual with Spotify, the Radio app is just the beginning of your musical journey. At some point you’ll hear a track you love but don’t know anything about. Which is when you need to delve back into Spotify and work some magic. Open Spotify Radio and you’ll be able to discover not only the artist responsible for that track but a lot more besides.
If you move your cursor across the playlist, you can highlight the currently-playing or one of the previously-played tracks. Click on it and you’ll be taken to that track in context within the album it comes from.
In this case by clicking on Norgaard by The Vaccines, I have discovered What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? You can then add the individual song or the full album to a playlist, star it for future reference, or even share it via a social network or two.
You can also explore more albums by the artist, or by clicking on the artist’s name, find out more about them and even see ‘Related Artists‘. One random song played in Spotify Radio has just opened up a whole new realm of music discovery. Not something that’s possible with the one-way, non-interactive dinosaur that is broadcast radio.
Spotify Radio can be used in many different ways:-
As a radio station creator, as the name suggests: Make a selection, press ‘Play‘, and you’ll have music blasting until you press ‘Stop‘.
As a tool for discovering new music: You love a particular band but have listened to them to death, then Spotify Radio will help you find artists of a similar style or mood.
As a means of discovering what’s popular: Keeping tabs on the ‘Popular‘ stations as shown in the screenshot above.
Have you used the new, improved Spotify Radio yet? If so, what do you think of it? Are there any features you’d like to see added, or anything Spotify could be doing better on this score or any others? Barring the permanent removal of all adverts, of course.