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I thought Spotify Niche Mixes were silly, and then I used one
Are you familiar with the term “goblincore?” I wasn’t, but Spotify decided it was the perfect phrase to introduce me to its Niche Mix feature. I laughed. I showed my colleagues here at Android Authority, and they laughed. Then, I looked up the term goblincore and found that it’s an aesthetic based on parts of nature not traditionally considered beautiful, like snails, moss, and mushrooms. I laughed a little more and wondered why Spotify chose this example to bring me into the world of hyper-specific playlists. Only after all of this laughing and research did I finally listen to the playlist and decide that, honestly, maybe Spotify Niche Mixes are onto something.
Wait, what’s a Spotify Niche Mix?
Oh, right, you’re probably as confused by Spotify Niche Mixes as I was. Well, as Spotify explains it, a Niche Mix is the combination of all of Spotify’s other personalized mixes, but in a playful way. That means it’s a mix of Mood, Decade, and Genre Mixes, yet somehow more specific than any individual category. It also means that you can search for just about anything on Spotify, and you’re bound to find a playlist. You don’t need to pay for Spotify Premium to make Niche Mixes; you just have to use the English language version of the app.
Spotify Niche Mixes blend mood, decade, and genre mixes for the most specific playlist results you can imagine.
Spotify Niche Mixes are meant to be as specific as specific can be. You can search by activity, vibe, or aesthetic to match your current needs and throw the term “mix” at the end. If you’re not sure where to start, Spotify also offers five to ten pre-made Niche Mixes to get you started. Like any other personalized mix, the Niche Mixes draw from your existing listening habits, so you’ll still get familiar songs even if you search for a completely new term.
As Stefon would put it on Weekend Update, the Spotify Niche Mixes have everything — goblins, bubblegrunge, hiking music, Sidney Applebaum — there’s not a tight limit to what they can be.
A little of this, a little of that
Even knowing what Niche Mixes are, many of the keywords that Spotify responds to are still pretty funny. I didn’t create the term Bubblegrunge, nor can I explain why there’s a mix of Murder Ballads specific to me (think Marty Robbins’ Big Iron, not music by Charles Manson). However, I keep coming back to the idea that, oh, yeah, Spotify already knows all of my listening habits. I spend countless hours on this platform every year as Spotify Wrapped likes to remind me, so of course it can craft a hyper-specific playlist that knows what I want to hear.
Now that we know what a Niche Mix is and that there’s almost no limit to what you can search, let’s bring it back to Goblincore. As it turns out, there are no mushrooms or moss associated with the playlist, but the songs are a solid mix of Hozier, Noah Kahan, Lizzy McAlpine, and Hailey Heyndrickx — exactly the kind of soft, moody music I find myself working to during the day. Would I have ever called it Goblincore? No, definitely not, but the resulting playlist is almost the perfect mix of genres and artists to keep me from getting bored.
I would never have called my work music 'goblincore,' but what do I know?
I’ve also started using Spotify Niche Mixes outside of my workday. I went for a hike a few weekends ago and wanted music to match the warm weather, so I opened Spotify and typed “hiking” in the search bar. Previously, I would have gotten a list of playlists created by other Spotify users, some with my tastes and some without. I got two Niche Mixes immediately — Mountain Mix and Hike Mix. There’s quite a bit of overlap between the two, though Mountain Mix seems to dip into more of the country genre, while Hike Mix is closer to Goblincore. I opted for Mountain Mix as it was a bright, sunny day, but I wouldn’t rule out the Hike Mix for future usage.
Despite the nearly endless list of Niche Mixes to search for and choose from, a few topics still break the mold a little bit. I couldn’t generate a fitting playlist based on The Roadhouse from Twin Peaks — David Lynch’s haunting, mysterious Bang Bang Bar is just too specific of a mood and an aesthetic. For those occasions, however, there are still plenty of user-created playlists for me to enjoy. For everything else, I’ve begun to embrace the weirdest, most wonderful niches I can find.
What do you think? Are Spotify’s Niche Mixes a clever way to bend playlists outside of basic criteria? Have you started using Niche Mixes yourself? Let us know in the poll below, and maybe suggest a few search terms we haven’t seen before.