Spotify Sessions gives rare insight into minds, work of up-and-coming musicians

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJuly 4, 2013 

There are plenty of things to like about the online music service, Spotify.

Offline playlists, the ability to share music and collaborate on playlists with friends are only some of the reasons I've been a Spotify devotee since the Swedish-based service launched in the U.S. in June 2011 after years of wrangling with the record companies over, what else, money.

I'm not even sure why people bother with Rdio or Pandora or any of the other myriad online streaming services, all of which pale in comparison to Spotify in the size of its catalog and ease of use, among other things.

But, as it turns out, Spotify has increased functionality and extra features that even I didn't even know about, most notable its "Spotify Sessions" series.

Each Tuesday, the music service releases a live EP recorded at its studios in Stockholm or New York featuring a different up-and-coming artist, and nearly every one is worth a listen.

There's Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Glen Hansard closing his six-song set with the traditional Irish funeral song "The Parting Glass" a capella in honor of the late The Band frontman Levon Helm.

Cincinnati indie rockers Walk the Moon strip down their frenetic hit "Anna Sun" to gorgeous effect.

Each track is also preceded by a short interview, offering the listener a glimpse into the mind of an artist that they simply don't get by listening to an album, such as the Q&A that proceeded Seattle rapper Macklemore performing his pro-gay-marriage hit, "Same Love."

"I think you make a song and you see a song's potential after it's created," Macklemore tells the interviewer. "And when you have a song that has the potential to resonate with people then that song has a life that might change some people's perspective. And within that, there's power."

My only problem with the Spotify Sessions is that the service itself doesn't do a good enough job promoting these recordings each week nor is there a main landing page upon which all of these LPs can be readily found.

Spotify has its opponents -- namely artists like The Black Keys and Jason Isbell who told the New York Times it was just another way of ripping off musicians -- but by offering free Spotify Sessions, the service is lending a hand to up-and-coming bands and giving listeners a chance to hear some of their favorite artists live.

It's not far-fetched to believe this kind of experience could lead to increased ticket sales for participating artists.

But more than anything, the Spotify Sessions series is just really darn cool.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

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