Tag Archives: playlists

Research About Listening

This is a guest post by Amanda Krause, a post graduate student at Heriot Watt University who’s researching everyday music listening habits. She has a few online music questionnaires and is looking for music fans to help answer a few questions.


My name is Amanda Krause. I am a post graduate student at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, researching in the field of applied psychology. My research interests center on how we use music in our everyday lives, and particularly how we use and listen to music in relation to current and changing technology.

I have created the website researchaboutlistening.com and Twitter account (@StudyListening) to promote and engage with others about my research. On my website I have different opportunities for people to participate: right now there are four online questionnaires on the site that you can take part in. As I continue my work, different opportunities and information will be added to the website. And I try to share interesting, music-relevant information and links via my twitter account.

Two of the current studies are related to making playlists as a way that people are now able to listen to music.  My previous research revealed that there are 5 different types of playlists that people tend to make; for example, playlists might be based on musicians, music genres, or for a certain activity or occasion. But I want to know more about playlists; but to do that, I need your help!

Playlists are just one way people can listen to music. What about shuffling music, and how mobile devices allow people to carry around massive amounts of music with them? There’s lot of ways that people engage with music and technology in their everyday lives.

Everyone, be it musicians or listeners can take part in my research. Since it’s about everyday listening, no one needs to be an expert in any way. I’m looking to uncover how music is used in our present lives, so please take part if you can.


Quick links to the current  surveys:

  • Social Network Fans Study: Questionnaire to examine how individuals use social networks to interact with and/or find out information about musicians.
  • Listening Study: Questionnaire to examine how individuals access and listen to music on a daily basis.
  • Future Playlists Study: Questionnaire to examine how individuals listen to music.


Spobbler: A Spotify Scripting Server

Alexander Forselius (krakelin on Spotify) is the creator of Spobbler, an ingenious server app that lets you automatically control Spotify playlists. Using its own Spotiscript scripting language, Spobbler opens up a world of Spotify programming possibilities. Alex is also an artist in his own right, with several ambient electronic albums on Spotify under the name of Dr. Sounds. I was intrigued by Spobbler and its creator, so I got in touch with Alex and asked him to tell us more about Spobbler and what you could do with it. Check out the interview below!

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Pansentient Playlists – My Electronic Elite

Here’s a one-off special choice selection of my own Spotify playlists. They’re all in the generic genre of electronica, but there’s so many wildly different sub-genres there that I felt at least my favourite seven styles each deserved its own playlist. These can then act as Spotify jump-off points into related tracks and artists, depending on what style you’re in the mood for.

Each playlist provides a sampler for a particular style of electronic music I particularly like. I’ve tried to make sure that if you click on an artist, you’ll find at least a full album or several EPs by that band. I’ve mixed the playlists into some sort of structure: you won’t find twenty albums thrown into a playlist, nor will you find any tracks I don’t thoroughly recommend.

Note: All playlists here were created using Spotify UK: Some tracks may not be available in your territory yet. Spotify’s country restrictions change daily though, so please try again later!

80s Synthpop: “The Golden Hour of Synthpop

For me, this is where it all started: synthpop was the electronic new-wave and the dawn of modern music as the synthesizer came out of the laboratories and into the hands of the musical pioneers: before this, bands were just tuning up. This playlist features some of the lesser-known classic tracks from the early 80s, when synthpop was being boiled from experimental into ambient, dance, and some kind of pop. You’ll probably recognize some of these bands, but not the songs – there’s no “Don’t You Want Me Baby” here. Artists include: Depeche Mode, Visage, Soft Cell, OMD, Fad Gadget, Pete Shelley, Heaven 17, and of course The Human League.

Synthpop / Electropop
:Synthpop 2000

I’ve already blogged about this best-of modern synthpop playlist; it’s since been tweaked and updated a little. Featured artists include: Freezepop, Client, Neon Neon, Ladyhawke, Little Boots, Goldfrapp, and The Knife.

Industrial / EBM: “Afront’s Spot Welding

Starting with “Industrial Introduction” from Throbbing Gristle and ending with the Grendel track “Outro,” this playlist chronicles the evolution of industrial and EBM music. Features: Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, VNV Nation, Rotersand, Hocico, and my latest fave EBMers Container 90.

Psychedelic Trance: “Spotted Mushrooms

There’s currently not a lot of psychedelic or goa trance on Spotify: what we have here is a short spotted taster from the likes of Infected Mushroom, Fatali, X-Dream, Eat Static and Koxbox. I’ll hopefully be able to grow this playlist in the future as more psy gets added to Spotify.

Progressive Trance: n/a

Spotify has so little progressive trance that there’s not really enough yet to make a decent playlist. Hopefully they will soon add more progressive trance, especially since it’s currently dominated by Swedish bands. Calling: Vibrasphere, Ticon, Tegma, Antix, Atmos, Ace Ventura, Duca, Perfect Stranger, …

Psybient / Psychill: “Pansentient PiHKAL

Sometimes close to psytrance, sometimes more mininal even ambient, Spotify doesn’t have currently have my favouties (no Entheogenic, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Shpongle or any on the Twisted Records rosta), but there are a few decent artists and vibes to chillout to. Features: Solar Fields, Tripswitch, Kuba, Lemonchill, and Bluetech.

Minimal:Afront’s Minimal Moves

I’ve only recently discovered minimal, so please excuse me if some of these tracks are too obvious or don’t quite fit your idea of minimal. Spotify has a wealth of choice here, and there’s some fantastic tunes so it’s taken me a while to filter this down to some favourites. Includes: Lützenkirchen, Trentemøller, Minilogue, Deadmau5, Popof, and Format:B.

Italo Disco / Cosmic Disco:Discophonic Workshop

Finally we return to the disco, but things have changed while we were away. J. Saul Kane and his label DC Recordings lead the way with the latest in discophonica, also known as space disco, cosmic disco, or electro disco. Perhaps it started with Giorgio Moroder or John Carpenter’s movie soundtracks, but it’s grown and mutated and now ended up on your game consoles in the ElectroChoc station on Grand Theft Auto IV. Features: Depth Charge, The Emperor Machine, Black Devil Disco Club, Metro Area, Legowelt, and In Flagranti.

New Spotify-related Community Sites

Half-a-dozen new Spotify-related sites have appeared over the last few days, and it’s refreshing to see serveral that offer something different from the usual playlist-tracking site.

  • freshspotify – richardkeen’s new site is similar to Last.fm-Spotify Find-New in that it tracks newly released music on Spotify and compares it with your favourite artists on Last.fm. freshspotify also lets you login with your gmail account so that you can setup “artist alert” emails to mail you whenever Spotify add tracks by your favourite bands. This works really well: I signed up and shortly afterwards received an email alert telling me about several newly added tracks from artists I’d ticked. Check the site’s blog or twitter page for updates and more info.

  • Spotwitfy – This site lists all Spotify playlists posted on Twitter, presented in an easy-to-read format like Twitter’s real-time search. You can also search the playlists and add your own tags (which are then clickable). A tagcloud feature is coming soon.
  • ShareMyPlaylists – Aimed at UK users, ShareMyPlaylists is another playlist tracking site with most of the usual features (upload cover art, add comments, rate a playlist, add to pre-defined set of genres). You can’t bookmark a page of your own playlists just yet (unless you add your name to each playlist’s title) and the site seems to run very slow for me here in Scotland, but it’s only been online a few days and is bound to have a few teething problems. The guys that run ShareMyPlaylists are active Twitterers, and have been giving away some great prizes for those quick enough to respond.
  • Listopify – A clean, easy-to-use site, similar to Spotylist but with extra features such as user avatars, comments, “tweet it” links, and add-friends. You can’t rate other user’s playlists, but I’m sure they will add this feature soon.

  • Spotilinks – This site takes a fresh and unique approach to playlists, calling itself the “first musical social network for UK Spotify users.” Once registered, you “spot” genres, artists, “moods”, or other users that you like to create a custom network of links. The concept is fantastique: it’s just let down a little by a slightly confusing user interface. A lot of French words keep popping up too which again is a bit confusing to us ross-beefs. If this site (still in beta) gets a bit of a polish and a decent userbase then it could well be a site I’d use regularly.

Spotify Playlist Site Review 2009

The latest (July 2009) playlist site awards are here.

In February 2009 I compared 10 of the best Spotify playlist sites, checking for things like how many playlists each had, how many features, what unique features a site had, things that could be improved…. here are the results in the first Spotify Playlist Site Awards!

Most Number of Playlists – Listiply

For many, quantity rules so here’s a look at how many playlists each site tracks:

Listiply has by far the most number of playlists: over 700 compared with the 2nd place site Spotifyfriends with around 450. Of course, many of these playlists sites are relatively new (especially the UK-based ones) and so are bound to not have as many playlists as the established sites. Note that a key feature of Listiply (auto-import playlist titles and tracks) is currently broken. UPDATE: The owner of Listiply has been in touch to say “the auto-track feature will be online soon again, and with it loads of new features (we have a branch full of features waiting to go live as soon as our connection to Spotify is re-established).”

Most Features – Spotyshare

Of course, it’s not always all about quantity: here is view based on the number of features each playlist site has:

Spotyshare is the clear winner here: you can bookmark a user’s page, text search, vote/rate, add comments, track the number of plays, store favorites, genre sub-categories and many more. It does have a slightly annoying Flash album art conveyor, and the registration asks for too many details (why does it need my postal address?), but Spotyshare clearly has a feature-set to beat. Other features I looked at included: does the site have RSS feeds, cover art, can you edit or delete a playlist once it’s added, and whether there are any “easy share” options. UPDATE: The owner of Spotyshare has been in touch to say “We have many new features on the way!

Easiest to Use – Spotylist

Spotylist remains one of my favourite playlist sites for its sheer ease-of-use and simple design. The site owner (“Spoty Bill”) is also on Twitter so you can tweet at him there (he might ignore you though).

Most Promising – Specifyspot

Specifyspot would probably be my top-rated site if I spoke Swedish: its emphasis on social networking and the users who upoad the playlists is unique and ideal to foster a community. It’s the only site that has user avatars, for example, and is one of only two sites here that let’s you enter any genre tag you like (almost all other sites force you to select from a pre-defined set of genres). I did try the “English” button but unfortunately this only seemed to translate the tags. If this site had a proper English-language version it’d be killer.

SpotifyParty is another site I plan to keep an eye on: it scored quite low for now (since it’s such a new site) but according to its related blog, a bunch of new features are coming soon.

Unique Features

Surprisingly, almost every site I looked at here did have some kind of unique feature or identify, and that’s not including genre-specialist sites such as the Jazz-only site dagensjazz. Here’s the low-down on what’s unique to each site:

  • Listiply: Auto-generates genres and song names (but currently broken)
  • Specifyspot: Social-networking features, emphasis on the user
  • Spotifyfriends: Popularity slider bars
  • Spotifylist: RSS feeds by genre
  • Spotifynd: Tag-based search (with tag cloud on homepage); vote down as well as up
  • SpotifyParty: Has its own blog
  • Spotifyplaylists: Cool emphasis on cover art
  • Spotylists: Ease-of-use, look-n-feel, twitter page
  • Spotyshare: User forum and a shed-load of features
  • YourSpotify: Emphasis on cover art (looks like a CD), cover slider


With its explosion in popularity, new sites relating to Spotify are appearing on the web every day. Most of these are sites that track playlists. I’ve looked at a dozen of the biggest ones here and although at first glance it seems they all do pretty much the same thing, spend a little time checking them out and it becomes apparent they each have their own unique feature. That said, there are some clear winners: if it’s sheer quantity of playlists you’re after, check out Listiply. If you want a feature-rich site, I recommend Spotyshare. For a site to quickly upload and bookmark your playlists, try Spotylist. And if you’re lucky enough to speak Swedish (tyvärr allt jag har är en Babel Fish), definitely check out Specifyspot.

Disagree with any of this? Run a site you’d like added here? Let us know!

Organising Spotify Playlists

Spotify’s playlists are one of its hottest killer features, but unfortunately the Spotify app has no easy way to organise them properly: you can move a playlist up and down your list of all playlists, but that’s about it.

Spoty Bill came up with a brilliant workaround: all you need to do is create some empty playlists and rename them to include “ —- “s as separators (see right). You can then use them like visual folders and organise them how you like. For example, I created one called —- My Playists —- to keep my own playlists in, another called —- User Playists —- for lists from other users I like, and one called —- New Albums —- to keep track of new releases.

What a great idea, thanks Bill!

Bill runs one of the better 3rd-party playlist sharing sites, so I upped a few of mine there last night. Some are new comps, some are recreations of 4-track cassette mixes I’ve made over the years. Have a look here: