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Like the Show? Listen to This: "Halt and Catch Fire" Characters Come to Life on Spotify.

AMC Networks figures out a clever way to give fans more content, without spending a penny.

James Minchin III/AMC
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

There are a lot of people trying to figure out how to link your TV set to your phone or tablet for a “second screen” experience. Here is one that actually makes a lot of sense: Spotify playlists for major characters in “Halt and Catch Fire,” AMC’s show about the PC business in the early ’80s.

These aren’t soundtracks for the show, though sometimes songs that appear on the drama will appear on the playlists, assembled by Thomas Golubić, the show’s music supervisor.

Instead, each playlist is supposed to “help elaborate on the different characters and their headspace, to articulate their journey with music,” said Golubić, who has also provided music for shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Six Feet Under.”

So that means that Gordon Clark, the show’s brilliant and under-appreciated engineer, has a list heavy on wistful ’70s light rock. Joe MacMillan, the confident but brooding and mysterious sales dude who bats baseballs into the walls of his empty condo, has Kraftwerk, Wire and other jagged stuff you probably can’t play at work.

“Halt and Catch Fire” could use more viewers — despite an aggressive rollout aimed at people who like and use computers, its numbers haven’t blown anyone away — but it’s hard to argue that this is a promotional gambit.

The way most people will find the playlists will be if they use AMC’s Story Sync, the app/Web second-screen thingy that’s supposed to work as a digital version of a DVD commentary track. That is — you’re probably only going to find these things if you’re already a super-fan.

The project, originally proposed by a writer’s assistant on the show, didn’t cost AMC anything beyond Golubić’s time. And he didn’t even have to spend much of that — Golubić says the lists are largely representative of character studies he and his team work on as they’re thinking through the show’s music.

“It’s kind of a perfect reflection of what we do,” he said. “I kind of try to interpret the character in musical terms, and figure out the associative angles that I hear in this character.”

Got that? Maybe easier if you just listen. Here are Gordon Clark’s songs; you can find Joe MacMillan’s here:

[spotify id=”spotify:user:amc_halt_and_catch_fire:playlist:3SuJy9Ov3YHOT1ua2PyRPJ” width=”600″ height=”760″ /]

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