20 really useful Spotify tips and tricks
19th Aug 2013 | 10:04
Searching for songs and managing results made easy
Really useful Spotify tips and tricks
Spotify is the best way to listen to music in the world today. It's easy to use, has a vast catalogue of music from major and independent labels, and you can even take it with you in the car or on the bus by buying a premium subscription and hooking it up to your mobile phone. But if you know all that and want to go a bit further and get the absolute most out of Spotify, here are some power-user tips and tricks that you can use to amp your Spotify experience up to 11.
1. Import your own music
Spotify's catalogue is big but not perfect. There's no Beatles, AC/DC or Atoms for Peace. To fix that, you can import your own MP3s, play them as if they were streamed, and even add them to your playlists. In Spotify's preferences, hit "Add Source", and select where your music is stored. Imported files can be found under "Local Files" in the left pane.
2. Follow some friends
If you have a friend that's always finding the best new music first, you might want to keep track of what they're listening to on Spotify. In the left pane, select "Follow" near the top, then "Find Friends" to track them down. Once followed, you'll see what they're listening to in the activity feed on the right.
3. Listen privately
However, you might not want your friends knowing that you're listening to Justin Bieber's latest album, "Believe". To temporarily hide what you're rocking out to, click your name in the top-right corner of the Spotify window and select "Private Session". It'll last until you close the program and reopen it, or you can disable it manually in the same menu.
4. Collaborate on a playlist
Music is better with friends. If you're planning a big road trip and you want to put a playlist together, you can collaborate on it with your friends without all needing to crowd around the same computer. After creating a playlist, right-click it and select "Collaborative Playlist". Then send a link to your friends, and they'll be able to add tracks too.
5. Search modifiers
Search Spotify using modifiers to restrict and refine your results. For example, to search for Madonna's 1983 output you enter "madonna year:1982". You can also search for a range of years, like this: "rolling stones year:1965-1972". Other modifiers include "album", "artist" and "genre". These can be combined, for example: "album:love artist:cult" only finds tracks from The Cult's "Love". Finally, Boolean syntax can be used to exclude keywords, like this: "genre:trip-hop NOT morcheeba".
6. Sync to your phone
Of course, you won't want to plug your laptop in in the car, and you won't have internet there anyway. If you subscribe to Spotify Premium then you can play your music on your Android, Windows Phone or iOS device. Download the app from the app store, then select which playlists you want to download and sync.
7. Sing along
Spotify's desktop version has its own apps, too. If you select "App Finder" in the left pane, then find TuneWiki and add it, you'll be able to see lyrics for almost any song, synced to the position you're at in the song – just like karaoke. The lyrics database is crowdsourced, so if your favourite song isn't included, just add it.
8. Track your taste
Spotify gives you a few statistics on your top artists, but for real data on what you've been listening to you can turn to Last.fm. If you register an account there, then tick the "Scrobble to Last.fm" box under preferences and enter your details, it'll track everything you listen to and give you all the statistics you could possibly desire.
9. Link to part of a track
As originally cited on the Spotify blog, you can send friends a track URI (uniform resource identifier) with a time index embedded in it. Copy the Spotify URI and paste it into your email or message window, then edit the URI to add '#time' to the end. For example, if the track has a brilliant solo at 1:26, you append #1:26 to the end of the URI. You can also do this with HTTP links, but you'll have to replace the hash tag "#" with "%23".
10. Volume control
Hold CTRL (CMD on a Mac) and hit the up or down arrow on your keyboard to change Spotify's volume. To mute playback, hit CTRL SHIFT and down – but note that adverts pause when you do that. You'll have to pay for a premium account to be rid of ads.
More really useful Spotify tips and tricks
11. Tune in to the radio
There are some days when you just don't know what you want to listen to, and that big search box looks terrifying. When that happens to you, select "Radio" from the left hand pane, hit "Create a new station" and pick an artist, album, or playlist that you like. Spotify will then pick other, similar tracks from its library to play.
12. Go gapless
Plenty of albums are designed to be listened to as one continuous mix, so in a recent upgrade Spotify added the option to eliminate the gaps between tracks when you're listening to them. It should be enabled by default, but to check go to Spotify settings and tick the "Gapless Playback" option. You can also crossfade tracks if that floats your boat.
13. Listen online
It's not always convenient to load up the desktop version of Spotify if you just want to play a quick song. Or perhaps you don't have permissions to install software on your computer. In either case, try the web interface instead. Go to play.spotify.com in your browser and you'll get the full Spotify experience without installing anything.
14. Integrate Spotify with Firefox
Spotify Search is one of our favourite plugins. It enables you to search for information on the current track direct from your browser. Combine it with Spotify Search for a complete search and playback solution in your browser. Once downloaded all you have to do is: Right-click selection and search in Spotify.
15. Quicker playlist creation
So, you've found Spotify's most popular tracks – now turn them into a playlist. CTRL and click on tracks to make multiple selections, then right-click to open the context sensitive menu and choose "Save to" and "New Playlist".
16. Have a laugh
Not all of Spotify's content is music. There's a bunch of good comedy on the service too, which you can find using the Official Comedy app. To track it down, go to the App Finder in the left hand pane and hunt for "Official Comedy". From there, you can follow comedians, check out themed playlists and share the best jokes with your friends.
17. Host a listening party
If you'd like to get a bit more involved in the music-listening experience and get some recommendations from real people, Spotify app Soundrop is a fantastic tool. Find it in the App Finder, then browse its themed rooms or create your own and share it with friends. In a listening room, vote your favourite songs to the top to hear them next.
18. Learn a language
Learning a new language doesn't have to be a pain using Spotify's Listen Language app, which will direct you to free audio courses in 24 languages, including Korean, Somali and Tamil. You can even learn some English pick-up lines and swear words, if you're not happy with your current collection.
19. Go see a show
Perhaps you've heard that some musicians aren't totally happy with the amount of money Spotify pays them. The best way to support your favourite bands it to buy merchandise or go see them on tour. Spotify, with the help of Songkick, will tell you when your favourite musicians are playing in your town and help you to acquire a ticket.
20. Find a new friend
Lastly, if you're looking for a special someone to share your headphones with then head on over to the Tastebuds.fm Spotify app. It matches you up with people with similar music taste, then lets you contact them if you so wish with a favourite song or album. You could even build a collaborative playlist together. If music be the food of love... play on.