I hope the way the site works will, in reality, be reasonably self-evident. Even so, the practicalities associated with its dependence on a third party make a few words of explanation necessary.
In the beginning was the simple notion of creating a platform allowing me to publish track-by-track commentaries on Spotify playlists I had compiled, these two elements combining to make something like a sounding e-book, or however it might be described.
It follows that you must have Spotify installed on your computer or device to use this site as intended, so if you don’t already, you will need to subscribe. Before doing so you will do well to check out my Spotify tab.
Thus enabled, you qualify to choose one of the playlists (they’re under the tab so-named on the top menu), though for the moment this remains academic as only the first is available. You now need to fire up Spotify if you don’t already have it open. It’s a good idea to make sure nothing is playing or even paused from your last session, to prevent Spotify reverting, after playing one of this site’s playlist items, to whatever you were listening to then. This irritant (it won’t bother everyone, I suppose) stems from Spotify’s lack of a ‘Stop’ button. The solution is to go down to the very last track on your Spotify screen, start playing it, then immediately click near the extreme right of the time bar and allow it to end, whereupon the controls should grey out and you’ll be ready to roll. It’s a bit of a rigmarole to do this each time you start a session, but until that ‘Stop’ button arrives it’s one I fear we’re saddled with.
OK, time to listen to some music. On your chosen playlist’s index page (some say navigation page, others hub page), e.g. Edition #1, Mysterious Barricades, you have the option to simply press the playbutton to listen to the whole playlist. Alternatively, you can click one of the links in the running order lower down, which will take you to the commentary, and individual playbutton, for your chosen track. (In case of trouble with these playbuttons, incidentally, note that the green headings – work titles – are also links.) At the bottom of each page you’ll find a link to the next entry, and one back to the index page, for further navigation. Note that, because whatever you are doing Spotify should operate in the background, if you use the index page playbutton to listen to the whole playlist, as described at the start of this paragraph, you can do so while using these ‘Next track’ links to browse the commentaries one by one.
I’m aware this might all sound trickier than it actually is – you’ll probably find it quite straightforward, soon enough if not right away. To be sure, Spotify’s behaviour will differ from computer to computer, device to device, so it’s possible you’ll need to fiddle a little to find your way. Personally, I have great faith in your ability to do this, but if having fiddled you still have a problem, don’t hesitate to email me (see bottom of this page) and I’ll do what I can to help.
In addition to the two components mentioned – my words and Spotify’s sounds – there are two others making up the total package of Playlistasartform. One is simply the images illustrating the various tracks, intended to be entertaining rather than anything else. More significant is the texts’ incorporation of abundant, colour-coded hyperlinks designed to enrich and expand on the core content. These are occasionally a little tangential, though the majority do no more than point straight to a relevant Wikipedia or other web page, or track in Spotify. We now take it for granted, but Wiki is an astonishing phenomenon, and it’s incredibly useful, when writing on a large subject for what you might call a random readership (potentially anyone who has clicked a web link), to be able to place behind a text a coherent exposition, itself containing signposts to further exploration, of something like (off the top of my head) embouchure, Shoegaze or the Pythagorean comma, which some will be knowledgeable about but others may have not so much as heard of until that very moment.
Similar use is made of that other great behemoth of online information, YouTube, as well as fantastic resources such as Ubuweb, the Internet Archive, BBC podcasts and the like. Although at the point of a playlist going live all links have been checked as being in full working order, in time some will inevitably cease to lead anywhere – such is the nature of the web. I will keep checking them myself, but should you find one that has lapsed please let me know and I’ll react, even if it means amending the text.
Another amazing resource, if it’s not too obvious to say so, is Spotify itself, whose value to the musically intrepid may not be obvious on encountering it for the first time through this site. If anything in my playlists excites curiosity – a performer, a composer, a genre, an instrument, whatever it may be – Spotify provides scope for further exploration on a scale we could only dream of not so long ago. Whatever takes your fancy, the chances are that Spotify has a whole lot more where it came from. Note that, having clicked one of my playlists’ individual playbuttons, you need only minimize this site to see a track in Spotify in the context of the album from which it comes, which you might then wish to bookmark for subsequent investigation: you can’t miss the green + Save as Playlist button (or right click the album title and choose Add to … New Playlist).
In this imperfect world there’s always a ‘but’, a fly in the ointment. In the case of Playlistasartform it’s more of a fault-line, possible to ignore day-to-day but capable without warning of shaking the foundations of the whole edifice, if not send it toppling to the ground. Having elsewhere sung so loudly the praises of Spotify, it’s time to mention the awful truth that just as tracks may be added to the catalogue, so occasionally they can disappear, temporarily or otherwise. That this happens at the behest of the music’s rights-holder rather the service itself cannot prevent the consequent quake damage to my carefully composed playlists. All I can do in response – as when two items from my first edition dropped off the radar just as it was about to go live – is repair the damage as speedily and as seamlessly as I can, with alternative tracks and fresh written content if possible / necessary. Not that I’m going to waste the commentaries to the affected tracks once written, even if they can no longer be heard in Spotify – which is where the Diary of the ones that disappeared comes in.
Please feel free to email me (fin at playlistasartform dot com), or send a Twitter DM (@playlistfin), if anything about the way the site works is unclear, or if you encounter missing tracks, broken links or technological or other problems using it. I’ll do my utmost to respond as promptly and as helpfully as I’m able at the time.