Ever scrolled through Instagram or Twitter and gave a few unwanted posts a little love, just to brighten their owners’ day? Or do you often want to veer off the beaten path of Spotify to listen to something that no one – not even one person – has ever played?
If you always root for the underdog (and who doesn’t?) and believe that popularity is often the hallmark of mediocrity, Forgotify is for you.
According to data released by Spotify in October 2019, well over 4 million songs in its catalog have never been heard – no, not once. Think of the myriad of obscure artists out there (possibly even from decades past) that you could fall in love with if you just found them randomly!
After all, how many young listeners never heard Kate Bush’s incredible vocal gymnastics until Stranger Things: Season 4 gave her the new platform she so emphatically deserved?
In fact, Forgotify has been gaining traction since 2014 (which is before Apple Music was even a thing, just FYI) when Lane Jordan heard the staggering fact that about 20% of tracks on Spotify have precisely zero plays. Together with their friends J Hausmann and Nate Gagnon, they built Forget (opens in new tab)a Spotify unplayed track discovery engine.
The trio created the database to crawl Spotify’s API for tracks with zero play counts – the equivalent of zero points if you’re a Eurovision Song Contest geek – and then bring them to you.
And the best part? Once a song is played by you, its play count goes up to one, and so it disappears from the Forgotify website (although, of course, it’s still on Spotify), which means two things: first, you’ve given this one artist or act with a very small streaming fee of $0.003 to $0.005; and second, unless that track suddenly takes off in a big way, you might be the only person in history to broadcast it.
Opinion: One for Obscure Music Fans – and I Love It
The back catalog of unplayed songs is, as you might expect, a little bizarre, but my favorites are the decades-old albums hidden here; the ones you can imagine as vinyl records have been gathering dust in Spotify’s endless virtual stockpile.
Unlike Spotify, Tidal and most of the best music streaming services, Forgotify’s algorithm no take into account what you currently listen to, although try to mix eras and genres so you don’t have three 40s doo-wop songs or multiple 90s grunge tracks on the heels – remember, it’s all about the music no one already heard on Spotify.
In the last two hours, Forgotify’s random picks for me have included Marseille Dans Le Brouillard by Sylvain Yardin, the title track of the 2010 album (you might think that at least the title track can be played, but no… although of course it now is); the soft rock Where were you by Skapegoat, from the 2007 album Dawn Of A New Death; and despondent blues by Mildred Bailey & Her Alley Cats on the album The Lady in the Rockin’ Chair recorded from 1931-1950, which was undoubtedly my winner – like Doris Day, but more bluesy and even more soulful and raunchy.
I was actually a little outraged that Mildred Bailey wasn’t a household name, but a deeper dive into Spotify’s broader catalog reveals that some of her other offerings have has racked up several thousand pieces and of course many thousands more music lovers may be turning this record at home without my knowing it…so I feel a little better.
I enjoyed German house, big band swing, classical concerts, ska, hip-hop, bhangra… yes, there were some flaws, but sometimes it’s nice to be released from the burden of choice. Whatever Forgotify has given me, I’ve played it and it’s been fun.
Besides, I’ve discovered Mildred, and I’m not going to lose her now…