Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Five Best Spotify Maps

Spotify has created a map of the most 'distinctive' songs being listened to in thousands of cities around the world. Spotify's Music Map allows you to click on cities across the world and listen to songs which are 'distinctive' to those cities.

Or at least you should be able to listen to the songs - I couldn't. Each city marker includes only a link to listen to the city's distinctive songs on Spotify. Every time I clicked on a link I only got a spinning loading symbol.  So not only could I not listen to the songs I couldn't even see the list of what those songs were.

Spotify say that the 'distinctive' songs are "music that people in each city listen to quite a bit, which people in other cities also do not listen to very much". I've no idea why Spotify would choose this nebulous approach. I'm sure there would be far more interest in the actual most popular songs in each city.

To be fair to Spotify the loading problem I encountered might be caused by my browser or just a temporary problem with Spotify's servers. However the whole map is a little unsatisfying. It isn't exactly what I'd call a beautiful map. A well designed map of the most popular songs in cities around the world could be a great marketing tool for Spotify. This map, however, just feels like an opportunity missed.

Perhaps Spotify should market some of the third party maps created with the Spotify API instead. The following Spotify maps, made by independent developers, are far better than Spotify's own map.

My favorite Spotify map is Serendipity. Serendipity uses data from Spotify to show you the locations of two Spotify users who are listening to the same track at the same time. The map shows the locations of two users who have started listening to the same song on Spotify within a tenth of a second of each other, in different towns, cities, states, nations or timezones.

The thing I most like about this application is the use of a stereographic projection. The Web Mercator projection seems to rule the roost in online mapping these days, so it is nice to see a different map projection get a rare outing.

When the map progresses from one paired serendipitous song to the next it animates to a new map view, which is particular interesting to watch with this stereographic projection. You also get a quick blast of each new song featured as the map animates around the world.

Roadtrip Mixtape is another great Spotify map. Roadtrip Mixtape is a great way to create a playlist for a road-trip containing only music by artists that originate from locations on your route. Drive through Boston and you might hear Aerosmith or Donna Summer. Drive through New Orleans and you could hear Lil Wayne or Dr. John.

To use the application you just need  to add the starting point of your journey and your destination. Your journey is then displayed on a Google Map. Each leg of the journey is represented on the map by a green marker.

If you click on a marker you can view a list of local artists from that stage of the journey. If you select 'Play this leg' you can listen to the music for that leg of the journey directly from the map.

Music Where You Are is a location based music discovery map. The map uses the Spotify API to find 'music where you are, where you are going, and where you want to be'.

Share your location with the map and you can discover songs about your location from the Spotify playlist. Alternatively you can search for artists from your searched location. All the Spotify songs or artists from your search are displayed in the map side-panel. Click on a song or artist and you can listen to the music or add the songs / artists to your Spotify playlists.

If you click on the little calendar icon you can also view upcoming gigs around your location.

Spotimap is another interactive map which can help you find location themed songs. The map plots 7,681 songs in 212 cities around the world, as listed in the Wikipedia article List of songs about cities.

Click on any city's musical note shaped marker on the map and you can view a list of songs about the selected city. What's more, if you select any of the songs from the displayed list, you can listen to the song on Spotify.

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