Journal: Stations is Spotify’s Best Kept Secret

'Stations' is one of Spotify's best-kept secrets. 'Stations' is a Pandora-like app that allows you to create stations based on multiple artists, genres, or moods.
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Spotify Stations app

Spotify Stations is a Pandora-like app that allows you to create stations based on multiple artists, genres, or moods. Where an artist station on the Spotify app gives you little control, Stations allows you more fine-tuned control. Stations is one of Spotify’s best-kept secrets.

The beauty of Stations is that it’s simple. The regular Spotify app is feature heavy and easy to get lost in. In Stations, you see a list of stations you’ve created, along with stations made for you (Discover Weekly, Favorites, and Release Radar). The only other controls are a thumbs up, thumbs down, pause, and forward.

This simplicity is what Stations so attractive. It provides what you want and need without the distractions. Scroll up or down through your stations to change a station (music begins immediately). Each station changes the screen background-color, so once you become accustomed to your stations you can quickly detect what you’re listening to.

Along the top, you see the option to create a new station, visit your inbox, connect to a device (Bluetooth), and settings. Let’s look at each one of these.

Selecting a Genres and Moods station in Spotify Stations

To create a station, you can go two routes: create an artist(s) focused station, or create a genre/mood station. To create an artist station, you can select one of the artists that Spotify suggests (based on your listening habits), or search for an artist. After selecting your first artist, Stations suggests additional artists. Every time you select more artists, you’re provided more suggestions. It’s akin to drilling down.

Genre and Mood stations are pre-made. For the an Indie genre station, you can select Epic Indie, Indie Classics, and Fresh Indie. Before you commit to one of these stations, you can preview the station.

Indie stations in Spotify Stations

There are twenty-three main categories of Genre and Mood stations, including a For You category (which is the Favorites, Discover Weekly, and Release Radar mentioned above). Decades provides six decades since the 1950s, and a seventh Legends station (The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, David Bowie). Rock has eight stations to choose from, so they all vary, depending on the size of the main genre.

Tips for Creating an Artist Station

Select several artists to start with. When you listen to the station for the first time, provide feedback by liking songs or thumbing things down. You’ll find that it begins to become repetitive after an hour, playing the same artists. When it starts repeating artists, scroll to another station and scroll back. This will refresh the song selection. Give it more feedback on the second playthrough. If you repeat this several times, your station will hone in on songs you’ll dig. (Note that the artists that define your station will change as you provide feedback.)

You can add/remove artists from a station after you’ve created it. To edit a station you’ve created, tap and hold on the station name. As for a predefined Spotify station, such as the New Wave station, you can tap and hold to view the artists they added to create the station. If you really enjoy a station, the edit view will show you related stations made by Spotify.

Keep in mind that when you thumb a song up, you’ll add it to your Spotify library of songs. At the same time, thumbing a song down will not remove it from your library. So know that you won’t mess up your Spotify library by disliking a song on your station.

Stations will only show you what it’s playing, so you can’t see upcoming songs in the app. This is nice because of simplicity, and it encourages you to be in the moment. But if you want to see what’s coming, you can open your Spotify app. Select the playlist button, and from there you have the option to rearrange the order of songs coming up, or remove them. You can also see the playlist in the desktop app.

If you want to create a station that only plays the artist(s) you selected, deselect the Include similar artists option in the edit mode. Now you can set up a Cure station and have Robert Smith crooning for hours.

Creating a station in Spotify Stations

If you’re listening at home and you own a smart TV (or an Amazon Firestick like I do), connect to this device and you’ll have a nice display of the previous two songs, the current song, and the next two songs.

Stations is great to use while you’re driving since the interface is so simple and user friendly. It cuts down on the complexity of the regular app when you’re behind the wheel. They even provide a driving mode in the settings. It’s also a great tool to use while you’re at home for music discovery. Just hone in on your stations, and you’ll have a great experience.

As for the inbox that I mentioned, it’s simply a place where Spotify can suggest predefined stations, based on your listening habits, and your use of the app. Listen to your Robert Smith station, and you’ll find New Wave in your inbox.

Stations works with both Spotify Premium and free accounts. Just like the main app, you’ll have occasional commercials interjected in your stream if you don’t have a paid Spotify account.

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Kevin Flick
Kevin Flick

Kevin Flick founded Puddlegum in 1997 and has been engaging in music journalism off and on since. He's also a recording/mixing engineer and loves to help bands work through the creative process. He has coproduced and mixed for artists such as Saeyers, Midi Memory, and Cathedral Bells.

Rumors are that he's a Brighton Hove & Albion FC fan. He's also obsessed with coffee. Kevin resides in the college community of Bloomington, Indiana, where he studied at Indiana University.

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