I’m severely dating myself by hitting publish on this post, but since I’ve been writing about and collecting music, I’ve listened to music on the following formats:
- Vinyl (33 1/3, 45, 78 and 16 rpm)
- 8-track tape
- Cassette tape
- Mini-CD (yes, that was a thing)
- mp3 (ahh, Napster)
- Streaming platforms
What’s important about this list is not to show how old I am, but to emphasize that each time a new format emerged, I embraced it, got on board and tried to get the most out of each one — whether I thought they were going to last or not.
As a music writer (and fan/collector), one of the most important guiding principles you should follow is to always be absorbing music. There is no better way to keep your skills sharp and your intellect growing. (Reading and writing are pretty important, too, as I wrote last week.)
Love it or hate it, Spotify is the dominant music delivery platform in the world right now. Which means you — as a music writer in any phase of your career — need to get the most out of it. If you’re not already using them, taking advantage of these features will help maximize what Spotify has to offer:
From your Spotify dashboard, look for the “Your Library” section and click on “Made for You.” You’ll find some great features here. First among them is Discover Weekly.
Spotify describes this feature as “your weekly mixtape of fresh music.” Spotify’s very powerful AI equation factors the music you listen to during the week into picks for new songs it thinks you might enjoy. Why not see what they serve up? If you’re like me, you’ll probably never listen to 80% of these tracks again — or even make it all the way through some of them! — but you may discover a real gem or two that you may have never come across. Discover Weekly is updated each Monday.
Located in the same area as Discover Weekly, this feature is basically a playlist of brand new albums and advance tracks. Release Radar is updated as a new playlist each Friday.
If you’ve done music journalism for even a short period of time, you’ve learned how vital new music is to the entire industry. Not only are reviews almost always chosen because they are new, but public relations agents, managers and artists always plan to do interviews, features and podcast/radio availability around new material.
Not only can Release Radar give you ideas to pitch to editors, but it will keep you up on what’s happening in genres you might not follow. And of course, it will expose you to cool new tunes.
About and Fans Also Like
These two features are handy tools for music writers and can serve a variety of purposes.
Start by clicking on any artist’s name in Spotify. That brings you to their profile page. From there, you’ll both About and Fans Also Like right under the Play and Follow buttons.
Choose About to get accurate info about the artist. Often these bios are posted by the artist themselves, which guarantees names will be spelled correctly, lineups will be up to date, etc. And if the artist didn’t post or update this info, veteran music writers will have compiled it. How do I know this? Well, check out the byline on this entry, for example 😉
Finally, click on the Fans Also Like button to see what other Spotify users who play this artist listen to. Not only can you discover other music that is probably similar to the band you are focusing on, you may be able to dig deeper into this list and use those artists for comparison purposes in a review or piece on that band.
Work these four features into your Spotify habits to improve your music writing immediately. And while you do, I’ll work on coming up with some more cool features to share. And remember, our music writing class is filling up for the fall session, so sign up today.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.