Hear me out: browser tabs in music player apps

All right, listen. This isn’t for those of you with Dewey Decimal mental filing systems or expertly curated music playlists that easily identify the music contained within. But listen to me: we need music browser tabs in our music player apps.

Unfortunately I can’t take credit for this suggested – and hugely helpful! — addition to our music player interfaces. It was actually the deputy editor of Custom Hour, Dan Seifert, who… tweeted first the idea, to which I enthusiastically threw my support. We’re also not the only two geeks who think this would be a useful feature. Wearables critic Victoria Song agreed that she too would like a tab-like feature in her music players. (A good and correct opinion.)

i need browser tabs in my music player app so i can remember what i want to listen to after i finish listening to what i am currently listening to

— dan seifert (@dcseifert) February 4, 2022

One problem with modern music apps like Spotify and Apple Music is that they’ve been confused from the start. The second you open one, you’ll be bombarded with promotional columns, “made you” playlists you might not even use, new releases, and stuff you’ve been listening to recently and may never want to hear again. It makes it much harder to remember where you left off yesterday when you open the app.

Now we’re not talking about tabs in a browser window here – that’s chaos. (Can you imagine having 15 Spotify tabs open in Chrome while trying to do the 200 other things you’re already juggling? Immediately no.) The tabs we’re suggesting would integrate into device apps themselves, meaning that when you open Spotify on your computer, you could easily browse the music you wanted to listen to.

Before anyone tries to argue that this already exists with queues, it’s not the same. Adding a song or songs to a “Like” playlist is not the same as isolating a discography or artist or even a single release. And with playlists, arguably the closest thing to a tab feature, they can quickly become cluttered without a flawless filing system. (Not to mention – who wants to make a playlist for a single song?) I have no idea what’s in my own playlist titled “Daily Mix 1” (something I must have saved ages ago from a of Spotify’s algorithmic playlists), just like playlists titled “Perfect” and “Good” have been gathering dust I assume for years.

As Dan points out, another problem with the queuing argument is that they play music in the order you add to it, while tabs allow you to choose what to listen to when you’re done.

Tabs are great for listening to that new album when you have time later

What tabs are especially useful for is discovering new music, such as an album you’ve wanted to hear but haven’t had the time for yet. I run into this problem quite often. Adding a new album to my “Liked” songs on Spotify puts it in a random order with all my favorite stuff, and it’s a hassle to clean up that playlist later. Making a playlist of a new album almost causes it to be forgotten. My decrepit goldfish memory doesn’t have the space to recall returning to an album playlist two weeks later.

As my colleague Victoria points out, ‘she always forgets what to listen to’. You know what would help with that? tabs.

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