Rocking on the Freeway Part 2: Streaming Music in Your Car

The drive to and from work can be a grind at times…endless traffic jams, road congestion or the sheer ennui of making the same journey day in and day out is enough to make the nerves jingle-jangle.

We know that calming music eases anxiety, and at the same increases concentration, by lowering blood pressure, slowing down the heart rate, and reducing stress. Indeed, stress management in the car is easy to orchestrate, simply let the music wash over you while you are driving, whether it’s playing from the radio, a CD or your mobile device. Own the space. Get your life back. If you are driving alone there is no one pestering you, switch off your phone (or keep it on airplane mode if it’s your music source) and your vehicle transforms into a decompression chamber, regardless of what is happening on the freeway or gridlocked streets.

Most cars have a radio, or CD player to tune into – but if you are still playing that an old greatest hits tape in a cassette player, then perhaps it’s time you started streaming your music while in your car?

While there are a bunch of great services out there such as Apple Music, Tidal, and SoundCloud et al, Spotify is certainly the biggest, with a 30 million-song catalogue and at least 20,000 new tracks being added daily, so for this post we will concentrate on this particular service.

Playing Spotify in the Car for Both Free and Premium Subscribers

Apart from not having ads interrupt your listening experience, another great benefit of a Spotify Premium account is that you can listen to your music offline, without a wifi connection or it eating into your mobile data plan.

The best way to listen to your music is save an album as a playlist, so it’s easy to find under ‘Your Music’ and flip the available offline switch. A tiny green icon will appear next to the playlist and you’re set.

A new addition to Spotify, that will come in useful in the car, is the Organize Your Music feature. Developed from a hackathon in NYC, this new feature will collate a user’s saved songs by a handful of parameters, and place tracks into a number of ‘bins’ such as Genres, Moods, Decades, Popularity and so on, with more bins being added all the time.

To immerse yourself in musical streaming heaven while behind the wheel, you have a number of options, that will pertain to most services, not just Spotify.

The built-in option: Some car and audio manufacturers offer Spotify directly to your dashboard for both Free and Premium subscribers: cars such as BMW, Mini and Tesla all come with state-of-the-art decks, while Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Parrot Asteroid offer great compatibility for car audio systems, not only for Spotify but other music streaming services.

For instance, with the Asteroid car radio by Parrot you can play Spotify even when you don’t have your phone with you, using a data connection over a dongle or offline stored music. It also packs excellent voice recognition.

For most users, a Plug-In AUX / Bluetooth connection is the most common option. All relatively new cars allow audio-in from a USB or headphone socket and it’s easy to setup, and then simply play your music via your phone as normal through the car’s speakers. If your car doesn’t have a USB connection, buy an adaptor for the lighter socket to keep your phone charged.

Bluetooth: Spotify should connect easily to most car radios, and you can control the interface on the dashboard with song titles/artist names displayed and play/pause/next/previous commands all there to save you fumbling with your phone on your lap while driving.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Spotify has included compatibility with both of these systems, so if your aftermarket car radio supports them then you will be treated to the works with full remote control of the app on your phone, including album art display in the dashboard.

Ford App Sync: Spotify also includes compatibility with Ford App Sync. Early versions require a cable connection, but Android users may be able to connect via bluetooth support.

Take Your Music With You – But Stay Alive

Whatever method of streaming you use – drive safely and follow these basic points:

Only use your mobile device when allowed by law and conditions permit safe use.

Always set up your mobile device and start Spotify before beginning to drive. Avoid interacting with your device while the vehicle is in motion. There is a neat car-friendly app for Spotify called Tunedeck for premium subscribers that can seamlessly find music and perform “smart touch gestures” to skip tracks, pause music, raise the volume, and perform other basic functions, easier than Spotify’s own interface.

Finally, never let your use of a mobile device distract you from a driving task. Always drive safely, keep your hands on the wheel and eyes and attention on the road.

Now, hit it.

Spotify Playlist – 100 Greatest Driving Songs Ever

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The Author

Jeff Porter

Read more by Jeff Porter

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