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Music discovery: a strong case for Spotify

With all that college students have to juggle, from work to school to somehow maintaining some form of social life, there are a few major perks, and one of them comes from our good friend Spotify. 

Music has long been known to have positive effects on the body and the mind, including its ability to reduce stress. Listening to music is an essential part of many people’s lives, and with its beneficial side effects, it’s a key tool for college students. Both Spotify and Apple Music have given college students the optimum gift: half-off their monthly subscription rates for instant access to millions of songs. Though both streaming platforms are popular options, Spotify comes out on top in terms of music discovery. So if you like to dig for new music, or have it handed to you weekly, check out these options on Spotify.

New Music Friday

Each week, Spotify releases a playlist exactly at midnight called “New Music Friday.” The playlist consists of the new songs that have been released that week and is ordered by predicted popularity, starting with the songs from the biggest names and extending about 70-100 songs down to the new independent releases that the Spotify team deemed promising enough to make the cut that week. As an artist, the placement on New Music Friday is crucial; if you’re in the top 10, it’s something to celebrate. Some rising artists even plan their releases due to where they might be placed on New Music Friday a certain week; if they know similar artists have a big release coming out, they might schedule their own releases for a different week so they can claim the better spots on New Music Friday. The selection on New Music Friday ranges from pop to rap to indie, and typically has a couple of country songs sprinkled in the mix, but not as many compared to some other genres. Though the top of New Music Friday will always give you the next big hit from the Ariana Grandes and Post Malones out there, the bottom 30 songs are often where you might find your next favorite song, and it’s worth digging through for some hidden gems.

Release Radar

Also released right at midnight each Friday, Release Radar is a playlist that is made specifically for each Spotify user and is based on the music taste of each individual. It’s essentially a filtered version of New Music Friday, personalized just for you. It often consists of many of the songs from New Music Friday, but only the ones from artists you typically listen to. It’s also a great way to find new remixes of songs you love; if a remix EP is released from an artist you follow or a song you have saved, one of the remixes will likely appear here, not on New Music Friday. Additionally, if an artist releases an EP or album with a song that makes it on New Music Friday, Release Radar will likely have at least one more song from that release, and it most likely won’t be the one that’s featured on NMF. So if you didn’t know that more songs from that artist were released, this is a good way to find out. 

Discover Weekly

Once you’ve had the weekend to browse through your Release Radar and New Music Friday, Spotify hits you with the Monday collection: Discover Weekly. Discover Weekly is also a personalized playlist made by Spotify; everybody’s is different, but unlike Release Radar, it’s not comprised of artists you frequently listen to, nor is it only new releases. Instead, Discover Weekly is a place to discover artists that may be new to you specifically. The songs on this playlist are based on your music taste, from artists, songs and albums similar to the ones you like. It’s a great place to discover a new favorite artist or to find an old song that is perfect for the present moment.

Social Sharing

Another great way to discover music is to check out what your friends are listening to. On Spotify’s desktop app, there’s a “Friend Activity” sidebar. When you follow a friend on Spotify, if they chose to share their activity, then they will appear here with whatever song they’re listening to at any given moment, from whatever album or playlist it’s on. So if your friends make creative playlists, or have a knack for creating playlists with a cohesive theme (such as good study songs, or road trip songs), then you might find it there on the activity sidebar, and you might just end up digging up a whole world of new music from there.

“Browse” Tab

The Browse section of Spotify opens up a whole new page of options. The tab has a handful of options that put a world of music at your fingertips. The “Genres & Moods” section is helpful if you’re looking for a specific vibe. If you’re studying, there’s an entire “Focus” section with playlists of all genres that are perfect for studying, and a “Party” section for when you end up on aux and don’t want to risk exposing your guests to one of your own playlists. There’s also a handful of sections with playlists by specific genres, like “Rock,” “Latin” and more. Further in the Browse tab is a separate New Releases section, which contains new albums, singles, your Release Radar and New Music Friday. Even further in, there’s a “Discover” tab, which hands you all the music discoveries you could ever ask for on a silver platter. 

So, although Apple products seem to dominate America right now, and though both streaming platforms have a $5 option for college students, if you’re looking to dig deep into the music that’s out there, Spotify might be the way to go.


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