Tips on Using Spotify's Advanced Music Search Options

Find the exact music you're looking for with these time-saving tips

Spotify Advanced Music Search
Using search commands in the Spotify desktop app.

Mark Harris

Hidden behind Spotify's user-friendly website and desktop client lurks a handy set of search options that you might not be aware of. These advanced set of commands are typed in the search box and are great for distilling the exact music you're looking for.

For example, you might want to see all the music Spotify has in its library that was released in a particular year. Similarly, you can filter out only the songs that an artist released in a given year or even decade. Having this extra ability to optimize your searches helps to get the exact results you need while efficiently using the Spotify music streaming service.

Rather than having Spotify spit out an enormous list of results (often with irrelevant entries), utilize the tips below to save yourself loads of time so that you can get on with building up your Spotify music library.

Important Syntax Rules

Before you start typing commands into Spotify's search box, it's useful to know these syntax rules:

  • Quotes have to surround any search term that has a space. For example, the command to search for the Ambient Pop genre would be genre:"ambient pop".
  • When using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), make sure they're typed in uppercase or Spotify will think you're searching for those words.
    • The default search parameter is AND, meaning that if you were to type Swift Dragons, you'd find everything that includes both the words Swift and Dragons.
    • You can type + or - instead of AND or NOT, such as -swift to avoid all mentions of the word.

Filter by Year to Compile Retro Playlists

This is a useful command if you want to search all the music in Spotify's music library for a particular year, or even a range of years (like a whole decade). This is also a great retro search tool for compiling music playlists for the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc.

year:1985

With the above example, Spotify's database is searched for music that was released in 1985.

year:1980-1989

The above example is useful for seeing music covering a range of years (e.g., 1980s in this example).

year:1980-1989 NOT year:1988

You can use the NOT Boolean operator to exclude a year.

Search for an Artist on Spotify

A more useful way to search for artists is to use this command because you can use extra Boolean operators to filter out unwanted results like collaborations with other artists. You can even look for specific collaborations only.

artist:"michael jackson"

The above search looks for all songs that an artist was involved in (regardless of collaboration).

artist:"michael jackson" NOT artist:akon

This one excludes an artist (Akon) from the Spotify search that collaborated with the main artist (Michael Jackson).

artist:"michael jackson" AND artist:akon 

This final example uses AND to include both parameters. In other words, it looks for specific collaboration between the two artists.

Search by Track or Album

To filter out unnecessary results when finding music, you can specify a track or album name to search for.

track:"invaders must die"

Use the above search command to find all songs with the "Invaders Must Die" title.

album:"invaders must die"

This example searches for all Spotify albums with a certain name.

Find Better Music With the Genre Filter

One of the ways you can use the advanced search commands in Spotify is to use the Genre command to search for artists and bands that fit into this musical type.

Tip: To see a full list of genres that you can search for, check out this Spotify genre list.

genre:electronica

This command searches for one particular genre type.

genre:electronica OR genre:trance

This one uses Boolean operators to get results from a mix of genres.

Combine Commands for Better Search Results

To really increase the effectiveness of the above commands you can combine them to make your searches even more powerful. For instance, you might want to find all the songs that an artist released in a particular year, or search for a series of albums by several artists covering a certain period of time.

artist:"michael jackson" year:1982

The above command finds all the Spotify songs that Michael Jackson released in 1982.

genre:rock OR genre:pop OR genre:"experimental rock" year:1990-1995

This huge Spotify search command includes a combination of two search operators to broaden the genre searches while covering a specific number of years.

year:2017-2018 genre:indie NOT panic NOT Khalid NOT feat. NOT "Imagine Dragons" NOT Zucker

Another example to show the power behind Spotify's advanced search capabilities is this command, which searches the service for all Indie songs released between 2017 and 2018, but excludes results that have various words in the track or album name.

You'd use this last advanced search command to get a list of songs from a specific genre but that excludes artists you don't want to see in the list. You could keep adding more NOT parameters to avoid seeing songs from particular bands.

Tip: If you're using Spotify from your web browser and want to return to that same search in the future to check for new songs, copying the URL to that page will re-insert the same search options the next time you open the URL.

Other Ways to Search Spotify

There are other advanced searching methods you can use to find specific songs. Spotify has a list of all of the supported search options on the Wayback Machine here: Advanced Search Syntax.

Some examples of what you'll find there include a tag:new parameter to find the most recently added albums on Spotify, and label to find music released by a specific record label.