Which of Spotify’s New Apps are Worth the Download?

Image courtesy of Spotify

A lot of times, the average user logging into Spotify is akin to a teenager opening a packed fridge in his parent’s house and exclaiming, “There’s nothing to eat!” Yeah, there’s tons of stuff in there, but the effort it takes to sort through it all and find something worth sinking one’s teeth into can make surly, ungrateful brats of us all. Luckily for us brats, Spotify is out with 12 brand-new apps Thursday that make like mom, serving up music as a cohesive meal rather than an incomprehensible tangle of delicacies.

Spotify first introduced apps into its ecosystem at the end of last year, rolling out offerings from outlets like Billboard, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. Now, the music subscription service is out with more than 10 new apps, including a passel of products from labels and distributers.

Apps are located via the “App Finder” tab on your Spotify account, and with today’s new influx, there are now 27 to choose from. Twenty-seven may seem like a lot (Gah, I just want to listen to music!), but before you go all teenager on us and slam the fridge door, note that Hive has checked out each and every one so you don’t have to. Read on to find out which ones you should add to your plate.

1). Hot Or Not

What It Is: Hot or Not is one of the few non-curation-focused app offerings this time around. Basically, you log in to the app via Facebook, after which you will be presented with an auto-playing song. (You have the option to rate tunes in three genres — party, rock, urban — or a sampling from all three.) Assess that song’s awesomeness and hit either “Hot” or “Not.” If the masses agree with you, you’ll get points, which will net you badges. Your score is listed on a leaderboard next to other Facebook friends using the app, and tunes that you score as “Hot” will be queued up as a playlist at the bottom of the page.

You Should Nab This If:… you’re not easily depressed by the taste of the masses. Seriously, guys, Devo’s “Whip It” and Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” were rated “Not” by the majority. I refuse to earn badges for hating on the Mothersbaughs and Co.

2). Matador Records

What It Is: One of the many label-made apps this time around, Matador Records provides an easy-to-navigate store of content for fans of Matador’s artists. The main page features a grid of new and upcoming releases, which you can, of course, add to your own library. There’s also an “All Releases” tab, which displays all Matador records by year. Clicking through is a pretty cool history lesson. Finally, the app features tour dates, arranged in a single list. This section would have been more user-friendly if it were sorted by artist. Also, you can’t click through to buy tickets in-app, which seems like an oversight.

You Should Nab This If:… you like bands on Matador Records.

3). Filtr

What It Is: When Facebook integrated with apps like Spotify last year, pulling data like what songs people were listening to on Spotify into a mini newsfeed, we were less than enthused. In most cases, we weren’t discovering new music in that stream of content, simply ascertaining that some of our friends have terrible taste in tunes.

Filtr also taps into the tastes of Facebook friends to surface music, but in a much more targeted way. After you log in to the app via Facebook you can start creating curated playlists in a variety of fashions: 1). Pick a Facebook event and generate a playlist based on the taste of the attendees, 2). Create a playlist based on some of your “Liked” artists on Facebook, 3). Choose a few friends and generate a playlist dictated by their tastes, 4). Add an event, some friends, and a few bands to the mix and come up with a nice goulash of tunes.

You Should Nab This If:…you use Facebook regularly to keep up with artists/have friends with good taste/attend a lot of shows or events to which you are invited via Facebook.

4). The Complete Collection

What It Is: Remember when you used to buy CDs? Remember those little booklets of lyrics and whatnot that came in the jewel cases? Remember how fun those were to look at (until you inevitably lost them)? The Complete Collection is the digital version of that.

The app features 150 albums to start, including acts like M.I.A., Drake and Florence + The Machine. Click on an artist to surface their complete collection of releases and start listening. While you jam along to Bad Girls and whatnot, you can flip through the aforementioned album booklet and read lyrics, liner notes, etc.

You Should Nab This If:… you miss the CD experience, but don’t really want to go buy a CD.

5). Def Jam

What It Is: Like Matador’s app, Def Jam is basically just a trove of music from Def Jam artists, organized into a variety of playlists: New Sh*t, Def Jam Classics, Rocafella Years, etc. Users can also check out releases both new and old, as well as Def Jam’s top 100 singles.

You Should Nab This If:… you dig Def Jam bands.

6). Classify

What It Is:You don’t see that many apps dealing with classical music these days. Classify fills that niche, curating that fancy, smart person music into easy-to-navigate buckets. After firing up the app, you can drill down by composer, era, mood, instrument and theme to find playlists that suit your every sophisticated fancy. Warning: Sorting by mood often surfaces albums along the lines of “Classic Tribute Music For Funerals” (“Sad” music). So there’s that.

You Should Nab This If:… you’re looking to learn the basics about classical music, or you’re in need of some tunes for quiet reflection.

7). [PIAS]

What It Is: Another label app. You know the drill at this point. The app features new releases from [PIAS] artists, playlists created by the label and artists, and still more curated playlists under the tab “Features.”

You Should Nab This If:…you like [PIAS].

8). The Legacy Of

What It Is: The Legacy Of follows in the footsteps of apps like The Guitar Collection: George Harrison and Sting’s 25th anniversary offering, pairing multimedia and music history with tunes. Basically, this app is the digital equivalent to the ubiquitous “Best Of” albums. Choose an artist (Bob Dylan, Hall and Oates, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Miles Davis for now) to access featured albums, a brief bio, photos, playlists (top tracks, influencers, followers, covers) and their full discography.

You Should Nab This If:…you need a good introduction to a classic band.

9). Domino

What It Is: Domino is the sugar company’s official app. After you download it your computer screen will taste like sugar. Go ahead, lick it. Just kidding, sadly. Nope, Domino is yet another record label app, featuring, you guessed it, music from Domino’s artists. Clicking on “Music” will surface a selection of albums from the label, “Artist” will help you reach the full discographies of bands on Domino, “Playlists” leads to curated track lists from bands, etc, and “This Week In” offers up a lesson in Domino’s history via an applicable playlist.

You Should Nab This If:… rinse, lather, repeat.

10). TweetVine

What It Is: TweetVine is an interesting concept that could have used a few more features before its initial launch. Created at a London Music Hack Day, the app creates playlists each hour from all tweets bearing the hashtag “#NowPlaying.” That’s all. The resulting playlists are just what you’d expect from the digital hive mind: a weird hodgepodge of Top 40 hits, Michael Jackson, foreign jams and holiday music. Hmm.

You Should Nab This If:… you really want to… As it stands, there’s really no reason to check out TweetVine — at least when it comes to music discovery. The app’s audience would be better served if TweetVine had taken a page from Monstro‘s book and allowed for more curation — IE, if users could listen to tunes that their friends are tweeting, etc.

11). The Warner Sound

What It Is: Imagine that, another label app! As with Domino et al., The Warner Sound features new releases and a ton of playlists from bands/influencers/etc. The standout feature in this app is Family Tree, which introduces a Warner band and offers up a playlist of artists that influenced/preceded that act. Sadly, however, these playlists are extremely short and lack any kind of editorial explaining why those particular artists are listed as influences. This dearth of content seems like a wasted opportunity to us.

You Should Nab This If:… Warner bands get you going.

12). Digster

What It Is: Back in the day, Digster was one on the first tools to offer any kind of curation for the Spotify experience. The Universal Music Group-forged playlist service launched in the U.S. last summer (just a few months after Spotify) and served up curated playlists. The Spotify app version is much the same, featuring a bevy of themed playlists and collections curated by artists. Apparently, you can also sign in via Facebook to get personalized recommendations, but we couldn’t get this feature to work.

You Should Nab This If:… you’re looking for a more general listening experience. To be honest, many of the other Spotify apps are more helpful when it comes to finding exactly the kind of music you’re after.

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