By Gregg Hollmann, “Party Professional”
This article pertains to the music streaming provider Spotify. Spotify is a fast-growing company that offers users the ability to stream music from a catalog of 30 million songs. Other than the typical non-participants like Prince, The Beatles and Garth Brooks, Spotify’s depth of music is incredible. It has offered 95%-plus of the tracks that I’ve searched for. Spotify currently has 75 million users worldwide, including 20 million paid subscribers who pay $9.99 per month for the “Premium” service for unlimited access to the music catalog. Users can create and share playlists, and also have the ability to import their current .mp3 music collections into the application.
Using a desktop program, web-based application, mobile phone application, Facebook account or even Sony Playstation, users can easily access their music whether at home or on the go. For free accounts, users are subjected to advertisements and can only playback their music on random shuffle when using a cellphone (free account users employing tablets and desktops are not subject to the shuffle only mode). Paid accounts are ad-free, and do not force users to listen on shuffle mode. Paid accounts also offer users the ability to listen to their music “offline” – for example, if you were to be in an area without web access such as an airplane, you could still listen to your Spotify tunes offline.
Before discussing how we as mobile DJs can integrate Spotify into our businesses, I would first like to discuss what Spotify is not. Under their license, for-profit mobile DJs are not allowed to use Spotify for the playback of music at parties. This would be a clear violation of their user license, and I confirmed this fact with a Spotify moderator in their online forums. Even with this major limitation, I’ve found some awesome ways that DJs can use Spotify.
5 Ways that DJs Can Use Spotify
1. To Share Musical Ideas in a New Way – Sharing playlists is a great way to interact with your clients! Let’s say that you created a playlist on your blog called “Top 10 First Dance Songs For a Wedding.” Traditionally, you would just type out the list and if you were ambitious, include links to YouTube videos for the songs. Now, you can create a playlist on Spotify, copy the link, and share it with readers so they can actually listen to and enjoy your song picks! To see an example of one of my Spotify playlists, see https://play.spotify.com/user/gregg_ambientdjs/playlist/0Hu13MzYIeWO5Q1oHynd7F In a more ambitious playlist, collaborating with the former DJ of a 1980s roller rink, he and I created a 600 song playlist that re-captured the musical vibe of our hometown roller rink, and then proceeded to share the playlist with a 350 people who used to skate there.
2. To Have Clients Share Their Musical Ideas With You – To get clients more involved and excited about their parties, I’ve asked some of them to join Spotify and create a playlist to help share their vision. It’s fun for clients, and it helps me to understand their taste by easily previewing tracks that I’m unfamiliar with. I’m not suggesting that Spotify should replace services like DJ Intelligence, but act more as a supplement or alternative for music afficionados in particular.
3. To Research and Create Awesome Playlists – As DJs, we all have our musical strengths and weaknesses. When we need help with a music style or theme, Spotify is a terrific tool. For example, I just did an African-themed summer party where the client was looking for authentic African music and African-influenced American music. Starting with a few artists and albums that he mentioned, I was able to quickly research related African artists, view other themed playlists, and create the perfect soundtrack for the afternoon. The interface is very intuitive From doo wop to international music to EDM to the latest hip hop / R&B, Spotify has a comprehensive song catalog that can help to make you look like a star DJ in any musical genre!
4. To Create Collaborative Playlists Among DJs – Premium accounts offer users a Collaborate function in which multiple users can contribute towards a playlist. DJ companies can create group playlists on Spotify that rely on contributions from multiple DJs. For example, a playlist called “Dance Floor Hits of Summer 2015.” This exercise builds solidarity and also broadens the DJs’ collective music knowledge.
5. To Discover New Music – With the growth of my business, I regret that I don’t have as much free time to explore new music as I once did. Spotify offers me a very efficient way to check out new artists and styles. For example, there have been numerous albums on my bucket list that I’m now listening to in their entirety in my office. It’s great! Spotify also has a playlist called “Viral Hits” that compiles fast-trending new music that we as DJs should be aware of. Finally, on a weekly basis, Spotify compiles a customized “Recommended” playlist of songs that extrapolates off my prior music selections.
Pitfalls and Limitations of Spotify
As earlier mentioned, when you stream music on the service you don’t own it. Thus, if you discover a new track or album that you enjoy on Spotify, you’ll need to purchase it separately to play it out at gigs.
The biggest potential pitfall of Spotify is discontinuation of the service. In other words, if one spent countless hours importing and organizing music on Spotify, and it ceased to exist, you would be out of luck. Currently, Spotify doesn’t offer the ability to export playlists. As a hedge, I recommend taking screen shots of your playlists so that you’ll have them, just in case. While Spotify is reputed to be losing money at present, the company is valued at some $1 billion and has successfully raised investment capital from institutional players like Goldman Sachs. In my opinion, the service should be around for awhile.
For More Information
To learn more about Spotify or join the service, visit www.spotify.com
By the way, Spotify currently has a special offer to try their paid service for $0.99 for three months (credit card required). Thereafter, users pay $9.99 per month to remain on the paid Premium plan. Personally, I think that Spotify is a great value at this price level.
It’s also worth mentioning that Algoriddim, the company behind the Djay software application for Mac, iPad, iPhone and Android, has partnered with Spotify, allowing software users to access and mix songs from Spotify in the software application.
If you’d like to connect with me on Spotify, my user name is gregg_ambientdjs
Happy music hunting!