As a music lover and hi-res audio convert, Spotify annoys me. And that is because despite what my ears (and my portable hi-res setups) are able to detect given better-quality audio, I keep coming back for more.
Look, Spotify's an old mate I met back in 2007; a pal who stuck by me even when I liked B*Witched, Shakespeare's Sister, and Evanescence.
So when Spotify says, "C'mon, come back for a bit – you'll feel better", it doesn't matter if it feels like a grimy dive bar with lossy OGG Vorbis files blaring through bad speakers. It's going to be rammed; the vibes will be on point. And I'm going to have a good time.
And so it is with Spotify Niche Mixes, a feature that recently launched on the big green streaming giant. It's not the feature I want, you understand. That would be Spotify HiFi, as I've taken great pains to explain over the 25 months since the company promised it (delivering only updates such as a TikTok-style revamp in its place).
No, this is a playful little perk you'll find (somewhat hidden in the Search tab, to be honest) casually offering listeners access to "tens of thousands of Mixes unique to them based on, well, almost anything they can think of".
So, entire playlists of niche genres unique to me and what I like? How thoughtful. To access your Niche Mixes, go to the 'Made For You' hub within the Search tab. There, see the 5-10 Mixes Spotify thinks you’ll like – and here's the thing, they might be genres you've never actually heard of.
Case in point: all these years, I'd thought DJ Snake and Molejo on heavy rotation (I use Taki-Taki as a reference track for testing the dynamic talent of consumer audio products and I'm not afraid to say it) meant I had a penchant for "something like reggaeton, but different". And now Spotify has presented me with a "Pagode Mix", thus teaching me that this is the genre I should be referencing. And don't I feel stupid?
As the three-hour playlist evolves, what Wiki describes as "a Brazilian style of music that originated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a subgenre of Samba… a celebration with food, music, dance, and party" makes my head nod and my silly London-born heart soar. And each day, the mix updates!
But that's not an end to it. I listen to Björk on my specially-curated "goblincore" mix, and Sea Witch in my "funeral doom" compilation, both of which resonate – and who knew I favored music at "150 BPM"? But here we are, that's a Mix Spotify gave me. Every day is a learning day with the Swedish streaming service, and this is where even the best music streaming services could learn a thing or two.
If you’re looking for a super-specific activity, vibe, or aesthetic, Spotify wants you to type it into the search bar and add the word “mix” at the end. A challenge! Don’t worry Spotify, I'm not shy… I type "Aerial hoop" into the search bar. Hundreds (hundreds) of curated playlists pop up, some for lyra (another name for the aerial discipline I perform) and aerial silks too. I try the same on my beloved Tidal HiFi Plus account. One hit – one two-hour playlist. Apple Music yields six user-curated and shared options.
Spotify's Niche Mixes are available globally to Free and Premium users who search Spotify in English. And despite the lossy, compressed, maxes-out-at-320kbps audio, I have loved this little sonic sojourn. That said, there's a lovely portable DAC and a great pair of relatively affordable wired over-ears (the Sivga Oriole, if you want to know) on my desk that are wasted listening to Spotify-quality music.
Oh, whatever. Go on then Spotify, I'll stay for one more.