Digital Top Stories

Spotify announces major redesign

By | Published on Friday 7 December 2012


Spotify CEO Daniel Ek yesterday announced a major redesign of Spotify’s software at a press conference in New York, though not before the customary stats brag that is compulsory at tech company media events these days.

Spotify now has five million paying subscribers worldwide, one million of those in the US. And the digital firm has, Ek said, paid out $500 million to rightsholders since its launch in 2008, half of that in the last nine months alone. So take that “Spotify is underpaying the artist” moaners. Wonder how much of the half billion was pocketed by the major labels, aka Spotify shareholders, as part of their lovely advances?

Anyway, to the redesign. Ek confirmed that Spotify would be rolling out a number of new features in the coming months, most providing functionality that many users have been requesting for some time, and which newer entrants to the music-on-demand market arguably do better, in particular better navigation and discovery tools.

“Users tell us they don’t know what to listen to, and artists tell us they want to connect more closely with fans”, said Ek. “So we’re creating a new and personalised way of finding great music”.

Core to all this will be the ability to ‘follow’ other users and artists Twitter-style (and somewhat akin to two now defunct digital music services, mflow and Boinc), which will then allow Spotify to make recommendations based on the listening habits of your chosen other users and updates made by your chosen artists. A new ‘Discover’ tab, meanwhile, will draw on a number of sources to deliver music that will, Spotify reckons, be of interest to you, and a new ‘Collection’ function adds a much needed library feature where users can save their favourite music, rather than constantly being faced with 20 million tracks to choose from or an unwieldy list of saved playlists.

More from Daniel Ek: “Our music influences are as individual as we are. Maybe you discover new songs or artists by reading reviews, listening to the radio, or sharing with friends. Maybe you go to a lot of concerts, love making cool playlists, or want to know what the people you care about are getting in to. Spotify now brings all of this together”.

Aside from all the discovery stuff, there’ll be other bits and pieces introduced too with the refreshed Spotify interface, including the integration of information and content from sources like Pitchfork, Songkick and Tunigo.

Time was also found at Spotify’s pre-Christmas bash to announce that Metallica’s catalogue, previously unavailable on the streaming platform, is now there and ready to play. It’s not quite The Beatles on iTunes, but it was an interesting development, given the metal band have only this month taken back control of their master recordings, and more importantly it provided a great opportunity to put Metallica drummer and once prolific file-sharing moaner Lars Ulrich on stage with his former Napster nemesis, and now Spotify advisor, Sean Parker. So that was fun.

Indeed, it seems that Ulrich and Parker are now best mates. Wrote Parker on Twitter this morning: “Lars just left my house in NYC. The litigation between us in 2000 is now a distant memory. Looking back it’s hard to imagine how we were anything other than natural allies”. Look out for those two following each other on the all new Spotify the minute it goes live.

To coincide with the launch, Daniel Ek also gave an interview to The Guardian, in which he discussed the aforementioned criticism of Spotify’s royalty payments. He noted: “We feel it’s natural that this kind of debate goes on early in a platform’s life-cycle. We tend to focus on the controversy, but I could be telling you about all the artists who are [now] on our platform, like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Dylan… a ton of artists that weren’t originally on it”.

He added that it wasn’t in his interests to make life difficult for musicians, saying: “If you look at Adele, the reason she did so well was she created great music. It wasn’t about a clever marketing trick. My ambition is we want artists to be able to afford to create the music they want to create, and if it takes them five years to sit down and make the album they want to make, they should be able to afford that. That’s my goal”.

Now, here’s a video to watch introducing all the new stuff: