Business News Digital

Spotify boosts ad-funded functionality on mobile

By | Published on Wednesday 25 April 2018


Spotify has played a balancing act with its ad-funded version over the years. How much functionality should freeloaders be allowed? Too little and they might run to piracy sites or – worse – YouTube. Too much and they won’t see any point paying for the full service. And somewhere in there, rightsholders have to be placated too. Turns out Spotify’s current thinking is that the free tier could do with a bit more thrown into it.

At an unnecessary press event in New York yesterday, Spotify announced that it was beefing up the mobile version of its ad-funded tier, which is where functionality has traditionally been most restricted. In recent years, smartphone using freemium subscribers have only been able to listen to albums and playlists on shuffle. But in an update due to roll out in the next few weeks, those non-paying users will be allowed up to 750 on-demand tracks per month, across fifteen of Spotify’s playlists.

Restrictions will be lifted on personalised playlists, such as Discover Weekly, Release Radar and Daily Mixes, plus popular editorially-driven collections, including RapCaviar and ¡Viva Latino!, Ultimate Indie and Alternative R&B.

“The better our free experience is, the more chance they’ll become premium users”, reckons the streaming service’s Chief Product Officer Gustav Söderström. “Engagement is the most important indicator of growth”.

VP of Product Development Babar Zafar adds: “Our customers always tell us that music discovery and listening is a personal experience, and we are enhancing the free experience with this in mind. This is the beginning of an evolution for Spotify and we will continue to make improvements that mirror our customers’ needs”.

He goes on: “This is not only about giving users a more customised free experience from the day they sign up, but giving them more control over their listening experience so they can easily find and stream their favourites anytime, from anywhere”.

Growth, of course, is what Spotify is still aiming for right now. Really it wants more paying users, they being much more lucrative for both the service and the music industry. But Spotify’s logic has always been that a bigger free userbase means more people to sell premium too. Let’s just hope a beefed up free offer doesn’t result in subscribers going to other way instead, and downgrading from premium to freemium.

Spotify needs to ensure continued growth – especially at its premium level – both if it is to ever reach the scale needed to become a viable business and to placate Wall Street and those people who like investing in loss-making companies on the promise of something great happening one day in the future. It has to be said, Wall Street does seem placated for now, with the company’s share price settling around the $155 mark.

Other updates to the mobile app include a new personalised homepage, consolidation of the number of sections in the navigation menu, and a new ‘data saver’ feature, which Spotify reckons will reduce mobile data usage by up to 75%.