Many happy returns are in order for music streaming service Spotify which, somehow, is now fifteen years old.
That’s right, if the app were human it would currently be barricading itself in its bedroom, blasting Nirvana at deafening decibels and lamenting that they feel misunderstood by everyone…or was that just my adolescence?
Most recently, the music platform launched a rather unremarkably titled new feature called “Car Thing” — a touchscreen controller that can be mounted on your car’s dashboard to play your favourite tunes from your Spotify Premium account.
The device features a touchscreen, a dial for navigation, voice control features and four preset buttons so you can store your favourite playlists and podcasts for easy access.
While this, so far free but only available in the US, invention is not likely to make huge waves in the music industry given that most modern cars already have similar built-in features, there is no denying that Spotify has changed the game during its 15 years of existence.
Founded in Stockholm on April 23, 2006, Spotify signalled something of a solution to the issue of music piracy that ran rampant in the early 00s. Suddenly, for just under ten dollars a month, music lovers could access an incredible library of tunes, and the rest was history.
In honour of our favourite streaming service almost being eligible for their learners permit, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Spotify features, innovations and moments.
Music for the Masses
Back in the days of music stores that sold actual, physical CDs, it was a fairly expensive exercise to grow your collection.
At $30 a pop for an album (typically $4.99 for a CD single), it wasn’t exactly the most accessible hobby for someone, particularly a young person, to pursue. Hell, I used to manage a Sanity music store and even with my staff discount, buying the latest releases from my favourite bands took a hefty chunk out of my measly pay packet.
Spotify gave millions of people the privilege of sampling new music and discovering new artists without the fear of dreaded buyer’s remorse while also making those hideous CD towers utterly redundant. For that, we shall always be thankful.
At the end of every year, Spotify subscribers look forward to discovering their Spotify Wrapped playlists, to find out which songs, genres and artists they consumed the most over the course of the previous 12 months.
Even more fun is the inevitable head-scratching and water-cooler chats about the unique and confusing genres Spotify has invented such as “Stomp and Holler”, “Escape Room”, “Catstep” and “Shiver Pop”.
The genres are the concoction of Spotify’s “Data Alchemist” Glenn McDonald, who developed an algorithm that assesses what a song sounds like or, as McDonald says, its “subjective psychoacoustic attributes.” Some of the rather obscure factors that go into determining a song’s genre include “tempo,” “duration,” “colour,” “modernity” and “femininity.”
Streaming for a Cause
Another reason we can’t get enough of Spotify is the way it throws itself behind important causes.
In June 2020, the platform pledged to contribute up to $10 million to organizations that are focused on the fight against racism, injustice, and inequity around the world, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum globally. The app also featured dedicated BLM music, playlists and podcasts to further amplify Black voices.
In 2021, to coincide with International Women’s Day, Spotify launched EQUAL — the music streamer’s global commitment dedicated to fostering equity for women in audio, and celebrating their contributions.
And, as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world, the streamer made substantial contributions to MusiCares, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation, as well as launching a $10 million matching fund through the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project.
Another COVID initiative was the Artist Fundraising Pick feature which enabled listeners to tip the artists they loved directly through the performer’s page.
Recently, the streamer has made efforts to spread awareness about the alarming rise of Asian hate crimes while, locally, it has launched Sound Up, which is dedicated to lifting up and amplifying the voices of the First Nations community in Australia.
A Playlist for Every Occasion
Back in the olden days, if you were planning a dinner party or some other type of shindig, you’d be sentenced to spending hours burning CDs with a collection of all of your favourite event appropriate tunes.
Or, if you’re really old like me — you’d have to wait for songs to play on the radio so you could record them on an analog tape! How Dickensian.
Spotify is a lazy person’s paradise with thousands of playlists available at your fingertips, curated to your musical tastes.
Take Your Pick of Podcasts
As if all of the above wasn’t enough reason to spring the ten bucks a month for a premium subscription, Spotify is also home to a slew of great ear candy by way of podcasts — a few of which are original productions.
On the Aussie front, we love Search Engine Sex — a Spotify Original about sex and relationships hosted by Rowdie Walden, Generation Betoota, a podcast exclusive to the streaming service from the Betoota Advocate and VICE Extremes Season 2, hosted by Julian Morgans.
The platform also released the intriguing series Casefiles Presents: Pseudocide, which examines the lengths people will go to in order to fake their own death.
And, of course, the music streaming giant inked a huge deal with Barack and Michelle Obama for the former POTUS and FLOTUS to produce exclusive Spotify content under their Higher Ground production banner.
So, happy birthday Spotify! And thank you for all of the ways in which you have enhanced our lives. We’d propose a toast but sadly, you’re still three years away from being able to drink to your own success.