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Spotify launches personalised playlist for US drivers

By | Published on Thursday 13 June 2019


Do you remember back in 2015, when Spotify was panicking about the imminent arrival of Apple Music, how it announced a load of amazing new updates to its software that would be incoming at some point in the future? Well, yesterday, four years later, it got a small step towards actually implementing one of them.

Back at that big Apple-spoiler press event in 2015, big boss Daniel Ek announced the Spotify Now playlist. The idea being that you’d hit play on it in the morning and it would adapt to your needs throughout the day. Maybe it would play some quiet music first thing, something a bit louder for your commute, drop in a news update at some point, and maybe even a podcast or two. After pressing play once, you’d never need to touch it again. It would handle it all, guessing what you wanted next before you knew yourself.

Well now – again, FOUR YEARS LATER – you can sort of almost have something a bit like that, kind of. Yesterday, for US users only, Spotify launched Your Daily Drive, a personalised playlist that updates daily, playing you music and dropping in the odd news update. It’s a bit like radio, except, well I suppose there’s no presenter and the music will be tailored to your tastes.

News will be provided by the Wall Street Journal, NPR and PRI, and the music played will be a mix of songs Spotify knows you like, with a smattering of new stuff that it thinks you’ll like because it sounds exactly like the stuff it knows you like.

“If it feels like you’re always in the car, you’re not alone”, says Spotify in a statement. “Americans log 70 billion hours behind the wheel each year, with a big chunk of that time spent commuting to and from work or school. To help make that time fly by, stay up to date on the world around you, and maybe even rock out to a few timeless classics, we are excited to introduce Your Daily Drive”.

Hopefully most of the news updates streamed to all those car-obsessed public-transport-phobic Americans will be about climate change.

Anyway, news of this new playlist has had a mixed response. Some are arguing that it proves, once and for all, that Spotify is no longer a music company. Although, while Spotify does now like to talk about ‘audio’ rather than ‘music’, saying that dropping some news into the mix stops Spotify being a music service is basically the same as saying that Newsbeat means Radio 1 isn’t a music radio station.

What this new playlist does show, however, is Spotify’s commitment to trying to tear people away from traditional radio, simply by offering a more radio-like service. The key place to do that is in the car. And, of course, the company recently launched a piece of in-car streaming hardware to better understand how people listen when they’re driving.

Whether the Your Daily Drive playlist will work for people in the same way that radio does remains to be seen. The long delay in making good on that 2015 promise suggests developing an automated radio-style programming system was a lot more difficult to implement than hoped. Plus, of course, while for some music fans radio-style DJ chatter is a turn-off, for many it’s a key part of the radio experience. And that’s harder to automate in a satisfactory way – especially when so much radio presenting relies on live interaction with listeners.