My favourite thing about Spotify has always been music discovery. So when the company started building personalised playlists like Discovery Weekly and Release radar, I was hooked.
The only problem was listening to all the new music takes forever. But an independent project from a couple of Spotify developers offers an amazing hack for exploring millions and millions of songs. They call it Discover Quickly.
The new Discover Quickly web app brings up your Discovery Weekly playlist as a grid of album covers. When you mouse over one, the song starts playing halfway through, and you can click the album cover to zoom in on that particular song and artist.
Clicking a track will also save it as a list that you can quickly export to Spotify as a new playlist. This effectively allowed me to curate my Discover Weekly playlist in a couple of minutes, instead of having to listen to the entire thing.
That new browsing method doesn’t just work with personalised playlists either. You can basically pull up any playlist on Spotify and do the same hovering and clicking trick.
Once you zoom in on any given track you can also zoom on the rest of that artists’ work as well as related albums.
I found it pleasingly easy to fall into rabbit hole after rabbit hole of music, discovering all kinds of new stuff along the way. As the name implies, Discover Quickly supercharges the music discovery element that makes Spotify so great in the first place.
“There’s very little in Discover Quickly that you can’t do on your regular Spotify app, but we chose to foreground the activity of traversing music quickly and visually,” Aliza Aufrichtig, designer at Spotify, told Gizmodo in an email.
“One of the biggest additions from our original version is the ability to start your exploration in lots of different places.”
It’s worth noting again that Discover Quickly is not an official Spotify project, although Aufrichtig and her development partner Edward Lee did start working on it at Spotify’s annual Hack Week. Aufrichtig explained that she got curious about Japanese music and wanted a way to browse through a bunch of songs easily.
Using the Spotify Web API, she pulled 30-second clips and album art from 1,000 Japanese albums, and after she saw how slick the ability to hover over an image and hear a song could be, the concept for Discover Quickly was born.
“I showed it to Edward,” Aufrichtig said, “and he was like, “Whoa, cool, but I want more. What if you could go infinitely down a rabbit hole of music, like getting lost on Wikipedia? Like what if you see a related artist and then click on them and can explore further.”
The Wikipedia rabbit hole analogy is actually perfect. In practice, Discover Quickly can suck you in and take you to genres you never even realised existed, because they’re somehow linked to music you already like.
And to make things even more fun, you can browse through songs almost as if you’re hovering over links to see where to go next.
Without Discover Quickly, it kind of feels like Spotify is a mess of music and podcasts, and soon the platform will offer audiobooks as part of the heap of content clamouring for your ears every time you open the app.
After Spotify announced it was acquiring an audiobook company Findaway to the growing list of content available through its app, it really got us thinking about how Discover Quickly could really be scaled to harness the possibilities.
Spotify did say it plans to work on audiobook discovery, similar to its work surfacing songs, playlists and podcasts. But this could get annoying fast, especially if you’re already deeply embedded within another platform for audiobooks. But we reckon Discover Quickly could do it better.
You can try Discover Quickly for free right here after you connect the web app to your Spotify account. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself listening to genres like “shimmer psych” or “acid techno” all day long.
This article has been updated since its original publication.