Playing with Forgotify: does the new streaming app help users find new music?
Today (Feb. 13), the top songs on Spotify are Katy Perry's "Dark Horse," Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" and A Great Big World's "Say Something," massive hits whose streaming numbers have all helped to notch them spots in the top 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart... but, what about music by Steve Haggard, Johnny Richardson and Ftah? No one has ever listened to them on Spotify... before me, that is.
Discovering these oddball artists came from the relatively new app Forgotify, which first made waves on the Internet last month. According to Billboard, 4 million songs have never before been played on the increasingly uber-popular Spotify app, and 20,000 new tracks are added every day. Through a Spotify popularity algorithm, Forgotify finds songs that have never before been listened to on the streaming service and introduces them to users.
So, how does the app shape up? Is it worth looking in to for discovering a new favorite band, one that could be all yours?
The things pulled up from Forgotify are beyond indie. This isn't just music from some hidden little Brooklyn rock band gem, this is weird stuff from all over the map. There's Hungarian classical arrangements, traditional Indian music cuts and some little known Americana acts.
And as for the English-speaking artists, an extraordinary amount of it comes from the 1980s, so of course it's kind of terrible.
After logging on to Forgotify.com, my first three played tracks were from Hetty Koes Endang, an Indonesian singer who incorporated a lot of harpsichord and childlike vocals, a song about fully alive and functioning hot dogs, fittingly titled "The Little Hot Dog" by who I think is a children's artist Johnny Richardson and a shockingly solid beach rock tune from '80s rockers The Surf Piranhas.
This music isn't just a mixed bag, it's an endless assorted abyss.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of the Forgotify music comes from international artists, some of whom appear to be quite well known in their home countries. For instance, two of my "discoveries," K.J. Yesudas and Hetty Koes Endang seemed to be award-winning musicians in their respective countries, but for obvious reasons hadn't crossed over at all to an American audience.
The Forgotify experience from a user point-of-view is much like a crappy thrift shop. You have to wade through tons and tons of odd stuff, things your grandma probably would be interested in and some musty numbers before stumbling across something that may be kind of cool or, at the very least, interesting. There's an insane amount of very traditional world music, children's music and classical arrangements.
Of my first 20 or so songs, only four were even in English or by American artists. And of those, none were anything I'd really consider listening to again or were even worth remembering, except maybe the wonderfully dated 1991 rap song "Ge Gee's Jam" by M.C. Ge Gee, and that would just be for the lolz.
In the end, Forgotify is a nice novelty for the music listener. It's a nice way to kill a little bit of time learning about international music and laughing at wonderfully awful album covers. But for finding the next new thing in music? Best still stick to your cooler friends.