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Discover hidden gems on Spotify

We show you how to find a treasure trove of live performances and other rarities on Spotify

Spotify has millions of tracks in its database, but even then it’s easy to fall into the trap of listening to the same old albums and playlists. Sometimes it takes a bit of creative searching or extra digging to uncover rare live performances or recordings from your favourite artists. Here are our tips for discovering the gems hidden in the Spotify vaults. 

1. Search for the BBC

The BBC’s own recordings aren’t in the Spotify library, but there are plenty of BBC studio sessions that have been released by artists including David Bowie, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and many others. Many of these are bonus tracks on regular albums that you wouldn’t normally discover when browsing through an artist’s Spotify catalogue. Searches for “BBC session”, “BBC live”, “BBC Radio 1” and “BBC Radio 2” uncover many of these recordings. We’ve created a playlist containing a selection of choice BBC sessions here.

2.  Dig out iTunes Festival recordings 

Fans of the iTunes Festival will know that Apple keeps these great live sessions on its site for about a month, before they vanish into the ether – with only some available to buy through the iTunes Store. However, there’s a wide selection of these available through Spotify – mainly ones from a few years back, rather than the latest sessions (we suspect Apple eventually got wise to it). iTunes Festival appearances in the Spotify vault include those from Crowded House, Goldfrapp and Athlete. Many more iTunes Festival tracks appear on the artists’ own albums as bonus tracks – search for “iTunes Festival” or “iTunes live” to uncover these. 

3. Seek out Spotify Sessions 

Like Apple, Spotify gets artists in to record live sessions that often aren’t listed in the artists’ own set of albums. These are often promoted on the Discover page for a week or so and then disappear from view. Once again, the search engine is your friend. A scan for “Spotify Session” will unearth terrific live sets from artists including Editors, Tom Odell, Passenger, Lily Allen and more. 

4. Dredge for compliations

Under each artist’s Spotify page, you get their most popular tracks, followed by albums, singles and then “compilations” right at the bottom. These compilations are often rare albums that aren’t listed as such, and it’s easy to miss them at the foot of the page for artists such as David Bowie, who have dozens of albums. Keep scrolling, and you’ll find gems like Bowie’s VH1 Storytellers session lurking at the bottom of those pages. 

5. Hunt down TV shows 

TV shows are a rich source for cracking live performances. Many release compilation albums that are available through Spotify. One of our favourites is the Irish Other Voices series, which includes great acoustic sessions from Jarvis Cocker, Edwyn Collins, James Vincent McMorrow and many others. A search for US chatshow host “Letterman” returns gems such as this Live on Letterman album, including performances from Lou Reed, Aretha Franklin and REM. Live performances from The Panel include acoustic tracks from Noel Gallagher, Joe Cocker and the Stereophonics. 


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