What the Heck Is Spotify? Music to Your Ears

Whether you’re trying to make a grocery store trip more interesting, looking to get a better feel for the next country you're exploring or just have that tune in your head you need to get out, listening to music is a great way to pass the time and add a little spice to your normal routine. But what’s the best way to hear your favorite songs right from your smartphone? There’s one easy answer: Spotify. Though it may sound high-tech, it’s actually very easy to learn. And with our rundown, you’ll be a Spotify-listening pro in no time:

So, what is Spotify?

From Spotify: Spotify is a digital music, podcast and video-streaming service that gives you access to millions of songs and other content from artists all over the world.

Translation: Spotify has collected countless songs across all genres, decades and countries and has put them on the Internet, allowing its users to download these songs right onto their smartphone.

Spotify has revolutionized how people listen to music. Now, you get to choose exactly what you want to listen to, when you want to listen to it, without downloading songs from CDs or purchasing them through iTunes. You can add certain songs to playlists (instead of having to buy the whole album for just one song). Or, if you’d like, you can listen to entire albums or a mix of every album from one artist. Think of this as your entire CD shelf all combined into one neatly organized app. The best part is that you can listen to your music anytime, anywhere, as long as you have Wi-Fi or a data plan. You no longer need to only be in the car or have your stereo. It will all be on your phone or tablet, just waiting for you to press play. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

A Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Started With Spotify

Note: The instructional images below are taken from an iPhone, but you can create a Spotify account on any type of smartphone, tablet or computer — the screen may just look a bit different.

The first step is to download Spotify from your app store as you would any other app. Once downloaded, you have to create an account by entering your email address and creating a password. It’ll then prompt you fill in your date of birth and gender. After that, pick a username you want the public to see. This could be your first name, your first and last name, or anything you want really. Then, voilà! You have an account.

If you don’t want to sign up with your email, you can click “Continue with Facebook” if you have a Facebook account. This option allows you to connect with any of your Facebook friends who might also have a Spotify account, and makes the sign-up process a bit quicker because they’ll have your information from Facebook.

After you create your username, it’ll ask you to choose artists you like to get started, but just click the “x” in the top right corner. We’ll get to that later. Click “skip” and then “not now” when prompted to get to the home screen where our journey together begins.

How Do I Search for Songs and Artists on Spotify?

At the bottom of your screen you’ll see four options: Home, Search, Your Library and Premium. Click the Search option and type in a song or artist. Then click the correct search result when it pops up. If you decide to search for an artist, you can see all of the songs and albums by that particular person or group.

Right off the bat you’ll see that if you’ve searched for an artist, you can click “shuffle play” to hear a random mix of every song they have. This could seem like a lot, especially if it’s someone really popular. Scroll a bit further down and you’ll find “Releases,” which is essentially albums. Click one of these and then the “shuffle play” option to hear all the songs from one particular album.

Note: With the free version of Spotify, you can only listen to songs by an artist, on an album or in a playlist in a random order. If you want to listen to one particular song at one time, you’ll have to pay for the premium version at $10 a month.

Creating a playlist to listen to later

So you’ve found your song or artist, and now you want to add it to a playlist so you can listen to them whenever you want. If you searched for a song, this step is easy. All you have to do is click the “add to playlist” button. If you’ve searched for an artist, you can find a list of their most popular songs when you click “and more” in bold, under “Shuffle Play.” If that doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you can find songs the same way by tapping the “and more” button when clicking through to an album.

Now that you have the song you want to add to your playlist, click “Create Playlist” and give it a name and hit “create.” Your song will automatically be added.

You can keep adding songs this way, the only difference is that you can now add the song to a current playlist, or create a new one. From this point on, when you click the three dots and “add to playlist,” you’ll be given a list of your current playlists that you can add the song to, or you have the option of creating a new one. To add to a current playlist, just click on that playlist to add the song.

If you added a song to a playlist by mistake, you can delete a song from your playlist by going into the song on the playlist and clicking on the three dots next to that song. You should then see an option that says “remove from this playlist.”

How Do I Access My Playlists?

Your newly created playlists will live under the “Your Library” tab at the bottom of your screen. Just click the “Playlists” tab at the top, pick your list and then “Shuffle Play” to start listening. You’ll notice here that you have an easy way to add songs by clicking “Add Songs” under “Shuffle Play” and searching for more music.

And there you have it: the basics of Spotify. Of course, there are so many more features to explore, such as using “radio stations” to discover new music and discovering playlists with songs arranged by mood or genre. But the most important thing to know about Spotify is to have fun with it! Play around and don’t be afraid to click buttons and experiment. You won’t delete anything without something popping up and asking if you’re sure, so you really have nothing to lose by just fooling around in the app.

Want to get started with your first Spotify playlist? We’ve created an awesome collection of artists to celebrate our Destination of the Year — New Orleans. Find the playlist here and then click “Continue to web player” at the bottom of the screen to start listening on your desktop or click “play on Spotify” if you’re reading this article on your phone.


About the Author:
Marissa Herman is a writer at Road Scholar. Marissa caught the travel bug when she studied abroad in the Netherlands and explored nine countries in three months. She has a degree in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College and loves sharing what she’s learned through her adventures.

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