College Media / ideas / innovation / online software / social media

Spinning songs and sharing music, digitally with Spotify

Editor’s Note: We are happy to welcome Allison Bennett Dyche, Assistant Director of Student Media at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Ga., as a new contributor to the blog.

If you’re still waiting for new CDs to arrive via postal mail, either for use at your radio station or to review for your newspaper or magazine’s A&E section, it’s time to get with the program.

Spotify came to the United States during the summer of 2011. If you’ve never heard of it before, or aren’t sure how to make best use of it, now’s the time to check it out.

You may remember the wonder of Napster when it first debuted in the late 1990s (and the following depression when old Napster officially went under in the early 2000s). Apple’s iTunes, launched in the early 2000s, has been the go-to for years now, allowing users to input their own existing music libraries and purchase new music, one song or album at a time.

Enter European digital streaming music service Spotify. The application allows users to input their own libraries of music, and also listen to a massive catalogue of music (reportedly more than 20 million songs) available at their fingertips. The biggest differences between iTunes and Spotify are the cost and the social media aspect. Spotify is available for free (with commercials) or for a small monthly subscription fee (with no commercials and availability on additional platforms, rather than paying by song or album).

And unlike Pandora, rather than just typing in the name of a couple of artists that you like and letting the site’s Music Genome Project algorithm handle the rest, you can build your own playlists, and share them with your social networks and the Spotify community. Making your playlists public will also allow for others to subscribe to your playlists, allowing you to share your music tastes with friends and strangers alike. But Spotify also offers an algorithm-based music suggestion feed through Spotify Radio. Listeners can choose a song they enjoy, and the application will choose and play similar music and artists.

For college radio station DJs, having a paid subscription to Spotify is a good way to not only build playlists for shows without having to fumble with CDs and vinyl, but also to be able to share it with the audience after the show is over. Sharing playlists on social media allows for a broader listening base to get a taste of the music played on your station during your shows, and allows those from outside your listening area to also support your station.

New albums and singles are available under the New Releases section under the “What’s New” tab, so your student media operation can start playing or reviewing new music it as soon as it drops.

Barack Obama's campaign playlist

• CBS This Morning songs from the shows

• Victoria’s Secret store playlist

• Snoop Dogg’s mixtape

So how can your student media operation get started with Spotify? Start off easy by building some playlists.

• Create playlists documenting their top songs of 2012, their top songs of fall semester, etc.

• Create playlists that include a sampling of the kind of music listeners can hear on your college radio station.

• With students traveling home, create an ultimate road trip mix, or have students put together a playlist of songs representing the cities/states where they’ll spend their breaks.

• Create an anti-holiday music playlist for when you just cannot take another rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Some playlists related to college:

The Daily Emerald at the University of Oregon started building and sharing weekly playlists on their site during fall semester.

Seventeen magazine shared an ultimate list of music to cram for college finals.

With more than 20 million songs at your fingertips and the ability to create and share as many playlists as you want, there are endless possibilities for how to incorporate Spotify into student media.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post in 2013 about new features Spotify is launching, and examples of how national and international media outlets are using Spotify apps.

Allison Bennett Dyche is the Assistant Director of Student Media at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Ga. She advises the online news organization District, the literary arts journal Port City Review and the SCAD chapter of the Society for Collegiate Journalists, and DJs a weekly show on SCAD Radio.

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