PGTW: Spotify: music for free

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 6 November 2014, Thursday

Spotify: music for free

Stream Christmas carols in July, bring back your childhood by listening to your parents’ favorite music, find out what this K-Pop is that your teenagers are crazy about – in short, listen to almost any music you want, whenever you want.

Sounds like a music lover’s dream?

Fortunately we live in a day and age when current communication technologies give us services that once were the stuff of science fiction. Musicphiles will enjoy Spotify, a downloadable app for your mobile, tablet, and laptop, that gives you online access to to a virtual library – “music for everyone,” as the website (Spotify.com) says.

I’m not affiliated with Spotify in any way – what I am is a satisfied user (my kind of music when I want it), an amazed user (“millions of songs,” they say – how is this possible? Magic!), an ecstatic user, because the app has opened up an entire archive to the public and I can now listen to music I would never have been able to hear otherwise.

Spotify was established in October 2008 by Sweden’s Spotify AB and is currently available in 58 countries. As of May this year, it has 40 million users worldwide. The app was pre-launched in the Philippines on 25 March 2014 and was fully launched on April 8.

There is a free service, and a Premium service (no ads, highest quality audio, listen offline) that costs only P129 per month – it’s $9.99 in the US (P450). You can Google the technical specs and features, but here’s a briefer of how the app works:

The music, arranged in playlists and by album, is available for you to access several ways. First, by using the Search bar. Need to hear more Sugar Pie Desanto than you can get on Youtube? Just enter her name or that of any other artist.

Second, through the Menu bar at the top, or through Browse in the sidebar. In the Menu bar, the Overview tab shows icons of popular playlists; Top Lists give you the top 100 R&B, country, “in the Philippines,” and so on; and Genres and Moods sort the playlists and albums into categories such as Mood, Party, Pop, Workout, Focus, and more.

The tabs New Releases, News, and Discover help you find new music, what’s popular, and music similar to what you’ve already listened to.

Under a Genre – say, “Workout”, there are Subgenres – “In the Gym,” “Running/Walking,” and “Misc.” Icons of the different playlists in that genre (they look like album covers) will help you narrow down your choice – “Hip Hop Workout,” “Latin Dance,” “Namaste.”

There’s something for everyone, even a “Manny Pacquiao Training Camp” playlist with 4,213 followers, featuring energetic pop hits such as Lorde’s “Royals,” the aptly-named “Six Directions of Boxing” by the Wu-Tang Clan, and Willie Wilcox’s “Pac Man Punch” featuring none other than the Super Pac himself.

The app adjusts to your tastes. Because I listened to Ray Conniff’s Yuletide songs, the Discover tab pointed me to “Easy Listening Jazz Standards”; after I played Coltrane, it suggested I check out Herbie Hancock’s greatest hits.

Spotify helps you learn about a particular genre of music. Want to know more about Bollywood music? Tibetan bowl and flute tunes? The roots of the blues? All here. For the latter, check out the “Blues Masters” playlist in the Jazz and Blues category – it’s where I first heard Muddy Waters’ version of “Hoochie Coochie Man” and John Lee Hooker’s take on “Boom Boom.” Aural gold.

You can also follow friends and artists to widen your musical range.

Spotify not only has music, it also has spoken word. Visit the Word section for audio books, lectures, poetry readings, stand-up comedy, and more.

The app extends your library beyond what you can afford to buy or have the time and patience to acquire. Love disco, ‘80s, classical? Want to fall asleep to the sounds of falling rain or waves crashing on rocks? Need to entertain your kids with fairy tales read by Boris Karloff? They’re all here. There is even a growing collection of OPM (original Pilipino music) tunes.

Excuse me, I gotta get up and dance. “Do you remember?…”  ***

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