Music tips

Look out the window for a really long time

The small room that I make music in has a skylight in it. The view is quite limited—just a small blue square with the occasional cloud, bird or airplane. But I think I’ve learned more about my own process from that small blue square than any guide, walkthrough, or manual could ever teach me. It lets me think clearly. It doesn’t even need to be a window either. Just something silent to stare at. Like a tropical aquarium, or a nice piece of art. These days you have to actually rip yourself out of the hyper-fast distractions that are constantly there (computer, cellphone, etc.) to find some quite silent time.

Once you do you’ll get into a way better space to write some songs.

Do you think Brian Wilson composed ‘Good Vibrations’ while he was replying to an email, ordering an Uber, checking his plays on SoundCloud and tweeting about the weather at the same time? I don’t think so.

Play five radios at once

You might wanna do this one when no one else is home. Or at least keep the volume low. It’ll definitely cause your friends to ask if everything is ok. But it really works! Tom Waits famously uses this technique during his songwriting process. He turns a couple radios on and then listens for the interesting overlaps.

You’ll find interesting progressions and melodies. Think of it like ear sampling.

This type of absurd composition is a form of aleatory music—It’s music where certain parts of the composition are left to chance. It’s the perfect storm for song inspiration. If it worked for Tom Waits it’s definitely worth trying. So turn on all those radios, roll the dice and listen for the interesting overlaps.

The Mozart effect

No, I’m not about to tell you to listen to Mozart and then do what he did. That would be cheating right? But there is another reason to listen to Mozart. Listening to Mozart has been studied and proven to have a positive effect on your focus. It affects your ‘spatial-temporal reasoning.’ Which is basically a fancy word for concentration. Starting your session with a bit of Mozart will put your brain into high-gear. Perfect for pumping out some quality songs. Copying a few of his phrases and melodies can’t hurt either… Just make sure you make ’em your own!

Control Your Computer’s Stream

Need to boost up the party but the phone speakers aren’t loud enough? Worry not, the streaming feature of Spotify has you covered. Play a song and tap on the Connect Icon (on the Now Playing pane) and choose your computer from the list of devices. This feature is only available in the Premium version of Spotify and also requires you to have the same version of Spotify both on your PC and phone.

Start a Radio

Confused about which playlist to listen to? The ‘Create a Radio’ feature should help you with it. Pick up any song, click on the three-dot menu and select Go to radio song. This will automatically create a playlist of the songs by the same artist, genre, and mood. No manual intervention at all.

Scrobble with last.fm

Scrobble is essentially the means to track your musical journey. So if you have listened to the new Zayn Malik’s song 40 times over the last week, last.fm will be able to tell that to you with precision.

Follow Friends

Yeah, yeah, your playlists are awesome. But on the rare occasion when you want to listen to something different, turn to your friends. Following friends on Spotify help you to have a rough idea of the songs that they are listening to. And you never know, you might end up discovering another awesome track to add to your collection.

Link your Account with Facebook

A Facebook linked account not only aids in the discovery great playlists and music but also aids you in sharing music in a much easier way — either as a status or a message. So do make sure to link your account to Facebook.

Make a Secret Playlist

Since Spotify functions under the principle of ‘listen and share’, so not everything is private — especially the playlists. Spotify Playlists are public by default. But thankfully, there’s a way to make them only yours. Open a Playlist and click on the three-dot menu and select ‘Make secret’. Ta-da, the playlist is yours only to see and listen.

Add Local Songs to Your Spotify Collection

Have a regional favorite which isn’t on Spotify, yet? Simple. Pull in the song from your personal collection. All you need to do is head over to Edit > Preferences and select Add a Source under Local Files. You can only add folders as local files and not individual songs. These uploaded songs will be seen under Local Files in the left panel.

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