Spotify has already capitalized on the social media opportunities of music exploration. With friends’ activities listed on your main Spotify page, shared and collaborative playlists, and the Spotify Wrapped obsession The Saint wrote of earlier this year, the social side of music seems more and more present in our lives. Spotify al- lows you to see what people are listening to, find playlists to fit any mood, and secure the soundtrack to your next party—but it also simplifies the task of locating new music. The platform offers “Release Radars,” “New Music Friday,” and generates mixes specific to your listening track records. Music exploration has never been this easy.
Spotify has taken the simplicity and ease of music exploration just one step further with Music League, a music-sharing mechanism based on a fantasy sports league type setup. Simple concept: create a league, pick a theme, invite friends, vote, and repeat.
And it’s just as easy to use as it is to understand.
To create a league, you log in online through your Spotify account. Name your league. Select how many songs your contestants will submit each round. Select how many points your contestant will “spend” each round. Decide whether those who don’t vote will be able to receive points for their submission, whether you’d like to limit the number of points a contestant can spend on one song, and whether contestants can “downvote” or “dislike” a submission. To add league members, you connect through Spotify username or invite them by email. You finalize the process by selecting a theme, adding a description, and setting due dates for your league members’ submissions and votes. Straightforward, and it all takes place on an easy-to-use website found after a simple google search.
The whole system sounds fun to me. But my favorite part is probably the theme selection. People are constantly creating playlists for a specific vibe. The Saint, itself, runs a “Library Listens” series based on the energy of St Andrews’ best university study spaces. I’ve created countless thematic playlists: universal parent-pleasers we all choose to listen to on long family drives, a “Summer Garden Party of Sorts” selection, “Nostalgia Triggers.” Music League just allows me, or any Spotify user out there, the opportunity to make this personal musical theme-match- ing efficient, fun, and competitive.
If you’re struggling to think of a musical theme, the ones you didn’t even know you were looking for in your life, here’s a short list of ideas:
• “Covers You Don’t Hate” — This one makes a lot of sense to me. People often brush off covers of songs because they think these versions will never meet the standard of the original record- ing. But there are so many covers out there worthy of some attention. I never thought that Paul Simon was worth covering until I listened to First Aid Kit’s rendition of “America.”
• “Best Acoustic Versions” — Pretty straightforward. Acoustic recordings always strike a chord, so which ones do it best?
• “Songs that Deserve More Credit” — Such a good opportunity to support local artists or even smaller bands you know and love. Or even the time to shoutout some of the more under- rated or unknown songs of the bands with some over- powering hits.
• “Don’t- skip-‘til-you- hear-the- first-chorus! songs” — This theme makes me laugh. So many songs people think to skip based on the slower openings and then they miss the absolutely unexpected banger of a chorus. One of my favorite examples: “Loud Places” by Jamie xx.
• “Homesick” — Songs that remind you of your home. This one evokes warmth and sweetness. You submit songs reminiscent of your own home or childhood, but also get to listen to the ones that make your friends happy.
•“Please listen to the lyrics!: Songwriting of exceptional note” — There’s the obvious hesitancy before asking listeners to “Please listen to the lyrics!” because we all fear, just a little bit, the occasionally condescending prescription of lyrical analysis. This theme cushions that blow. Everyone can submit songs with lyrics that have resonated with them somehow, ones that they think might speak to those around them as well.
I could go on for a long time with Music League theme ideas, but it is more the underlying concept of the sharing mechanism that seems most relevant. Music brings people together. Spotify has adequately recognized this. We publicize play- lists for ourselves, but also in hopes that friends and strangers will come across them when doing the hourly, daily, weekly, monthly peruse. We listen to playlists sent to us or made for us by Spotify’s algorithms. Music League joins all the fun together— learn of what your friends like, share what you like, compete, and explore.