With more than 20 million songs and counting, it’s hard to argue Spotify hasn’t become one of the premiere music streaming services of the last decade. Five years after its initial launch, the startup allows users to browse and freely play an enormous catalog of tunes — whether it be N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton, the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction, or Miley Cyrus’s wrecking ball of an album. What’s little known however, is that Spotify also is boasts with an impressively-wide selection of Java, HTML5 and CSS apps for discovering and experiencing all the music the service-turned-platform has to offer. Whether the streaming service trumps the likes of Pandora and Google in terms of algorithms is open for debate, but you can’t argue the added feature isn’t welcome.
With Spotify apps, users can peruse album reviews from popular music publications like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, build and vote on collaborative playlists within Soundrop listening rooms, and automatically curate a playlist fitting their increasingly morose mood using Moodagent (hint: loads of Bright Eyes and Elliot Smith). Furthermore, apps for viewing lyrics in real time and staying informed when you’re favorite band is rolling through town are also available, neatly tucked within Spotify’s desktop and web application for one-click access regardless of your platform.
Here are our top picks for the best Spotify apps so you spend less time fumbling through the mundane apps and more time using the ones making the most of Spotify’s overwhelming library. Now, let’s just hope London’s Ministry of Sound doesn’t get its way in the courtroom.
This article was originally published on Jan. 19, 2013, and updated on Nov. 15, 2013. Francis Bea contributed to this article.
Having to listen to exuberant, sun-dappled British pop is probably not ideal when you’re feeling down. Thankfully, the Danish-crafted Moodagent was specifically designed to fit whatever mood you may be in. The app automatically curates playlists on four facets — sensuality, tenderness, happiness and anger — and allows users to set emotional curves that adjust throughout the duration of the playlist, dipping into different moods other than initial one you set for the playlist. Additionally, playlists can be based entirely on a selected song or tempo opposed to a mood, factoring in characteristics such as instrumentation, genre and overall production qualities. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but it’s certainly in the ballpark.
Whereas a tender playlist might contain the likes of the Isley Brothers and Candi Staton, angry playlists will likely be stacked with Dying Fetus, Pig Destroyer and Motorhead to name a few. On the opposite spectrum, sensual playlists will feature artists such as Mary J. Blige and Madonna, while cheery ones will offer up Nina Simone, Little Walter and Shuggie Otis in quick succession.
Say what you will about the brash cynicism that bleeds out of every Pitchfork album review, but you can’t argue it’s not one of the premiere music publications on the Web. The Chicago-based publication, named after Tony Montana’s tattoo in the film Scarface, has an army of writers constantly scouring the nether regions of the music world, culling new and emerging artists from all over the globe. The Pitchfork app is supplemental to the site, conveniently broken down into three browsable tabs — All Reviews, Best New Albums, Playlists — each of which is often accompanied with additional text and commentary.
Every featured album is listed with a numerical rating, from one to 10, and includes a full-album review with ample context of each artist or band. Users can even save said album as a Spotify playlist or share it via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or with a friend. Pitchfork notoriously basks in the alternative and indie genres, but it has been know to break format when warranted. And just because the publication lambasted one your favorite artists on their latest LP, ahem Pixies, a low rating is still subjective. After all, it’s about discovery.
The days of MetroLyrics and A-Z Lyrics may finally be at an end. With TuneWiki, users can quickly peruse song lyrics to whatever track they’re listening to, whether it be Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” the Talking Heads’ “And She Was,” or any other track you might find yourself drunkenly attempting after a rough night out with friends. The app will automatically scroll and bold the current line as the track in question plays, tapping into the crowd-sourced database of supposed lyrics in a highly-synced manner, while offering a limited host of visual adjustments for tweaking the font size and background color. The database is robust regardless of genre or artist, but you will occasionally encounter missing or incorrect lyrics. Thankfully, the built-in lyric editor allows you to correct other users’ mistakes or add a complete set of lyrics to song missing from the TuneWiki archive. Still, I don’t know if anyone will every figure out the correct lyrics to “Blinded by the Light.” Lit up like a what?
Soundrop is like Turntable.fm in many ways, sans the cutesy avatars bobbing their head to the music in an empty room. The app invites users to listen to tracks from genre-based playlists in real-time with others, ushering users to chat and vote on added tracks by simply clicking an arrow pointing upward. Although the app is loaded with a barrage of ready-made genre and theme rooms, ranging from Indie Wok and Deep House to Working Out and Relaxing, and the app also allows users to create rooms on their own. Regardless of whether the room is private or public however, users can always share the room, add tracks pulled from the Spotify catalog, save them as a playlist, and instantly chat among other music snobs within the room. It’s satisfying and works incredibly well if you’re in a room with like-minded music aficionados, but as expected, it can take a turn for the worst when you get that one guy who thinks Eddie Murphy’s musical career isn’t over (which it’s not).
The apple-green Hype Machine is the be all end all when it comes to music blog aggregators. Crafted in ’05 by a sophomore computer science major at Hunter College, the site and accompanying app pulls together recently-posted songs and playlists from more than 800 popular and off-beat music blogs, each handpicked opposed to algorithmically-crafted. The app is broken into three separate tabs — Featured Blogs, Blogs by Genre and Blogs by Name — allowing users to comb through and search a myriad of genre-bending blogs like the experimental Decoder, folk-battered Yankee Calling and the hip-hopped Fader among others.
There are nearly 50 offered blog classifications within genre section, spanning a wide girth of diverse categories including post-punk, female vocalists, dreampop and the infamous tri-hop. Moreover, blog playlists feature external links to their respective sites and can be saved as Spotify playlists for use outside the app. The Hype Machine is notoriously picky regarding its sources, and as such, there’s typically a high volume of excellent content streaming at any given moment. Perhaps even too high a volume at times.
Next Page: Five more of the top-ten Spotify apps.