Pitchfork’s persistence

I rarely read Pitchfork anymore, but I’m glad they’ve persisted despite so much flak. They employ live-and-breathe-music staff who write features and reviews with intelligence. Reading intelligent thought—regardless of how much I myself agree with it, how flashy it is, or how “correct” it may be—is never boring. How you relate to the opinions—submission to anger, championing, frustration, stimulation, confusion—can be metered and mixed to describe, adjust, and/or hone how the piece in question relates to you.

Spotify — in defense of its potential for music discovery

I’ve heard more than a few people criticize Spotify as lacking good music-discovery features. While I’ll always lean on the side of human introduction (really knowledgable DJs, music nerds, like-minded friends), and next on solid algorithms based upon large sample-sized (a shit-ton of Scrobbles if you’ve lived in the painted-red Last.fm world), I think Spotify has recently done a workable job of this, and simply so.

In Spotify, pick an artist you really like, and not just a track or two, but have go-to albums for. Click the “Related Artists” on their page. Out of the 20—it always seems to be 20, even for a relatively obscure band like Shrimp Boat (my quick test without getting too “out there”)—choose one you’ve never heard of or have never listened to. That last bit is important. And then just listen.

Ironically, I think this process works slightly better the more varied one’s tastes are; people into a broad range of music, especially music with experimental leanings, will see greater sparsity between sounds of those “related artists”, as they become less related by their similarities and more related by their shared deviation from pop or pop-ish formats. Those with flat music taste: you may have a harder time finding something that knocks you off your feet–you may need that human touch to be steered towards something different but not too different.

This isn’t even including the whole notion of public & collaborative playlists, real-time ticker feed, and the recently added “follow” feature for artists/bands/public figures. Granted, these other features could still use some work, but I think as a whole it’s a program that provides many solid outlets for discovery, though no silver-bullet ideological wizardry. Spotify’s enormous catalog reach allows it—when paired with a decent algorithm—to, as far as I can tell, always recommend related artists; one only needs to travel a level or two deep into this web to have a new listening experience.