Screwing around with Spotify playlists

There is this new to me thing called Spotify playlists. I was late to the party, but oh what a party it is. Last Christmas I got the premium for the whole family @ $15/month. My daughter and son can now use ours with their own login and pay nothing. My wife has one of her own, but so far she is just a passive user and not a play-lister.

Now for me music was a thing that died back when my iPod 64 filled up in the mid 2000s. The thing back then was to torrent down an artist, mow through all of the songs in a collection manager, build playlists and even genres. In came a massive amount of music, and the trophy at the end of the day was the iPod full of music. When I filled that thing back then, I kept looking for bigger storage. It was all expensive. It was almost as if the music industry was actively engaged in suppressing piracy or something.

OK, so what is so great about this playlist stuff? Why bother? Why not listen to others?

Well for me there are giant huge holes in my music history. I was in college in the 80s. Everyone had an album or two, and you swapped them around, made tapes. People played music on speakers, which you could hear instead of earbuds. You would hear music you liked, and strike up a conversation that sometimes lead to friendship. For instance one night I was studying Chemistry and the guys two suites over were cranking Ghost in The Machine and I had never heard it. It was the track team back from a meet, pogo-ing as if they just had not run a marathon. I joined them and had fun. Stuff like that just happened, and nobody thought it was weird.

But if you think about that process, an album here, and album there, and odds are there were a lot of albums you never heard. By the time you could get it in the library it was dead to novelty. And most of us had no real money for any of this. So you knew every song from one Police album that some guy had, and maybe you had every single Rolling Stones album known to man on tape because the guy on the 3rd floor was a total Stones superfan.

So Spotify has almost everything out there. I took my whole iPod of YARRR and created a playlist from it, and something like 95% of it was on Spotify. That is pretty good. But this is where it gets better.

I decided I was going to make the ultimate college radio station, recreating college radio from the 1980s. I wanted the list so huge that it would not repeat or get stuck in a rut. Just shuffle and get surprises song after song. That was the theme- college radio, 1980s. I start by seeding with REM and a bunch of artists that were on the iPod and find out that hey wait a minute, they had how many albums??? Even bracketing it by the 1980s decade, there were whole swathes of music I had never heard from an artist I liked.

So on goes WoW, with some sort of grindy next alt to 120 mission, and in background is this Spotify stuff. Play the song, add it to the list or skip. Simple. All those gaming hours now generates a curated playlist of music I like from the massive collection. I finally go through all of the artists from my iPod in that genre, and notice at the end of the playlist the AI of Spotify is telling me I might like all of these artists. So I just let that play for a couple weeks, adding more songs as I get them. This is very Pandora like, but with a much larger playlist. By the time the suggestions are getting stale, my playlist is 1200+ songs. Just for that one tiny genre.

So I call up my old gaming buddy who used to mud with me and was a guitarist for Adam West. Take a look at my playlist. Tell me what it lacks, and what should go off. He does. And now I have a bigger list of stuff to saw through. Then I talk with New Wave Andy, and he lets me know where there are holes. In fill the holes. And when it is all said and done, it is over 1500 songs.

Sometimes doing this stuff puts me on tangents. For instance I was doing this reggae/ska playlist. Put in Skatellites, Marley, UB40, The Harder they Come, and just let the suggestions take me from there. And I discover a whole genre called Rocksteady that was popular in Jamaica in the 1960s. Some of the recordings are raw, but it is all good. Horns, rhythm and base, fun hooks. So I am listening to this stuff and there are all these songs about skinheads. Skinheads? From Jamaican musicians in the 1960s? Aren’t they racist? WTH? Off I go to Wiki and learn that the mods from the 1960s (think The Who/Quadrophenia or Kinks/Dandy) had 2 branches. There were the fashionista mods who were snappy dressers and had the sort of mop tops everyone knows about. But also there were the skinhead mods who were more working class UK kids, who wore boots because they had manual labor jobs and had short hair because people didn’t tolerate long hairs. Those kids were into Ska and Rocksteady from Jamaica. I suppose some of those former British colonies just connected with the UK. So these skinheads die off, then re-emerge in the 1970s and 1980s with punk rock. And even then there were different factions, one of which became the racists that we all hate, and other skinhead fashions that perhaps remembered the racial harmony of their parents and fought against the other skinheads. So OK that explains the whole why are Brits into Ska and why so much reggae runs through that nation…goes all the way back to the working class mods from the UK in the 1960s who were the exact opposite of racist. That little wiki journey sure made me rethink the propaganda we get. I suppose finding the idiot few who used that name in a bad way and using them for villains in movies sort of made me think all skinheads were racist, and I had no clue about the 1960s origin.

But that is Spotify. A musical tour to parts I had no idea, with playlists as the trophy for making the journey. And I got my alts to 120 too.


Thought I would toss up my playlists if you were interested. Search for ‘ferrynospam’ in a Spotify search bar and that will pull up the lists. Lists are meant to be shuffled, not played in strict order.

  • Islands (Ska/Rocksteady/Reggae) mostly finished, needs some tweaking though
  • Bloody Ears and Elbows (punk from late 70s to mid 80s) was a tough one curating as it is hard to stay in this genre for weeks
  • The Flannel Channel (loosely 90s stuff) been working on this one recently, not sure how it is shaping up
  • 80’s WAKE (college radio from 1980s) this is mostly done
  • Reeky Tiki (Martin Denny) cheesy exotica lounge music from the king of the genre, mainly there to annoy my parents at the beach
  • Big Beat (late 90s, early 2000s electronic music with heavy beat) a much smaller list to get you going
  • Naptime (Hindu and Buddhist sacred chants) This thing is my go to sleep music, sleep to it every night. My aim here was to find stuff that was not too jarring and resulted in low brain activity. Started with Spa channel idea, then took a long and winding path into this set of music.

Nice info and interesting to read. I am still old school and have almost a TB of albums in mp3 format. I still would rather listen to an entire album, not individual random songs. I do have our home setup with two Google Home, Chromcast Ultra, and some Chromecast Audio connected to old speakers in garage and kitchen. So, in addition to playing my album collection throughout the hole house or in specific locations, I do yell at Google to play various songs, channels, artists through Spotify or Youtube Music. I usually ask Google to play an artists general radio station through Spotify, you have to have a Spotify premium account to get it to play specific songs. And other times ask Google to play songs or albums or specific videos through Youtube Music / Youtube. It can automatically turn on my TV and receiver and start playing on my TV, its really pretty cool and when we have parties it is a fun party trick. People telling Google to play songs, pause, skip, up and down volume etc, its fun.
I just though I would add my audio listening habit and experience so that others may be interested in all the Google Home stuff. I also have a FireTV Cube too which I can also just ask Alexa to turn on TV and start watching Netflix and stuff, but Alexa doesnt do Youtube at all, so for that we use Google Home.

1 Like

Yeah my friend Punk Rock Ray has the mega music collection. He has stuff in that which you can not find anywhere else. He is Alexa based and has some kind of funky server setup to play his music everywhere. He also bought a lot of cheap Bluetooth speakers that he has in all rooms. He is retired and does this sort of thing for fun.

He got me into smart home stuff by Alexa too. I have a few Phillips Hue lights, Nest Thermostat, Logitech Harmony universal remote (IR blaster), 2 Echos and 1 Echo Dot, and 6 smart outlets that all are voice activated. Spotify fits ok into that universe. You have to mentally program your voice though, and I find ‘Alexa play playlist Islands on Spotify’ to be the sort of idiot proof way to ask. If you put Spotify before the playlist, any pause will make it launch Spotify where you last left it off, or have Alexa search Amazon music through it.

I had tried setting Spotify as my default music option (can do this in the Alexa app), but what happens then is the wife ties up my Spotify login playing stuff like John Denver. So I default back to Amazon music and she can do whatever she wants there easily.

Logitech Harmony does that kind of integration. You define a group which will set the input, TV, Roku, sound device, and default channel to either play your TV, play a DVD. Works like a charm. Can do ‘Alexa on TV increase volume’ and it will turn up my soundbar. Works nicely. Search feature for voice activation is lacking, tending to default to Prime Video. My Roku has a voice search that goes across all apps on Roku and pulls up a list by price for what you want. Punk Rock Ray likes the integration of Caavo which he uses for his home theater.

Sometimes I wish I had gone down the Google smart home road because the search engine for it is better. But Amazon seems to stand behind supporting their hardware over time, and you can still use a Generation 1 Echo with complete functionality.

I wound up going with Roku because I wanted a content agnostic based system. Everyone plays nice with Roku. So I can hop between things like DirectTV Now or PlayStation Vu and it will work and I am not locked into a base system that wants to send me to YouTube TV or an Amazon system that wants to steer me to Amazon content. This to me is the big thing about cord cutting…no contract streaming that you can chase the best deal with. So I can get YouTube TV and Prime Video on this Roku and they both push good offers to me. Because I can voice search across all apps for the cheapest movie, I was able to get good deals. For instance on Valentines Day I searched for ‘Bohemian Rapsody’ and found it for $5 rental on one streaming service, and my base streaming company wanted $17 or so to buy it and only offered a buy option.

I have another friend who hops around on phone services every 3 months or so. He landed a Sprint plan for $7/month that has everything. He is like that. Always changing, and they all chase him to offer him the best deals.

One really cool thing I have seen about Spotify is how well it integrates into the smart home. It becomes immediately obvious when you load up the desktop app and open the pulldown list of all the devices you can play it on. So I can send it to any Echo or Echo Dot from the basement, or to my UE Megaboom, or play my phone then have the phone link to a sound output device…it is very agile. It also goes into the car well.

I added my Spotify public playlists to the OP for anyone interested.