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Spotify updates dynamic playlisting, adds non-music content

By | Published on Thursday 21 May 2015


Spotify made some pretty bold moves yesterday in a bid to keep users locked into its player all day and then all night too, never leaving to go elsewhere, anywhere, at any time, allowing the Spotify machine to thrust ever more content into each and every user’s ears.

By which we mean the company unveiled a redesigned player that will not only feature music, but also podcasts, news, original radio-style programming and video (so that’s eyes covered too).

Many of the new features Spotify unveiled yesterday are clearly aimed at attracting more mainstream consumers, most of whom are yet to really embrace the streaming platforms. Because while engaged music fans are delighted by having millions of tracks on demand whenever they want them, those used to getting their music fix from radio or MTV-type services want to do less work, and possibly want something other than just tunes.

Which is why, if it works, the first thing Spotify boss Daniel Ek announced yesterday could be a very interesting proposition. The all-new Spotify Now playlist, it is claimed, will work out what users want to hear at any one moment in time, based on both in-house playlists and the user’s own listening history. So far so Pandora, though Spotify Now promises to adapt to the time of day, and to whatever the user may be doing at any one time. This brings in some of the advantages of traditional radio, which can better adapt the music to the precise moment of listening.

In addition to the more sophisticated personalised radio functionality, Spotify users will also now be able to access news and podcasts from within the app, as well as original programming created by the company itself, with radio shows presented by the likes of Icona Pop and Tyler, The Creator. And there’s video too (which we expected, of course). That will include plenty of comedy clips, we were told – though the ‘comedy’ section of the press conference was painfully unfunny, which possibly doesn’t bode well. Though Spotify’s video team will also be busy creating other content too, including artist interviews and a show called ‘Dance Move Of The Day’. So that’s nice.

Spotify-using runners got their own shit too. Using data from a subscriber’s phone, Spotify will now match tracks to the user’s running pace, serving up an ever changing playlist. And if that’s not enough, the company also announced “a whole new music format”, single tracks that last an entire run and change BPM based on how you speed up or slow down. There are six such tracks available at launch, including one from Tiesto, who was on hand at the press conference to awkwardly talk about his creation. Perhaps he was just back from a long and tiring run.

So, a lot of new stuff then, all of which is being rolled out to users in the US, UK, Germany and Sweden as we speak.

With so many new bits and pieces to unveil, it was notable that everything was demonstrated via Spotify’s mobile phone app, which tallies with reports from within the streaming firm that this where the bulk of listening is now happening. Though, I suppose, no one’s running around with a laptop shoved in their pocket, so perhaps that was the reason.

On the running thing too, it was interesting to see that Nike is a launch partner on this particular gimmick, alongside Runkeeper. And integration with Nike’s running app is incoming. Which is noteworthy because Nike’s running app has long been closely tied to Apple’s iPhone. And Apple is relevant here, of course, because all these new whistles and bells in the Spotify platform are an attempt to pre-empt whatever nonsense Apple has planned when it relaunches iTunes and Beats Music next month.

“We’re bringing you a deeper, richer, more immersive Spotify experience”, said Ek. “We want Spotify to help soundtrack your life by offering an even wider world of entertainment with an awesome mix of the best music, podcasts and video delivered to you throughout your day. And we’re just getting started”.

This all of course makes Deezer’s big announcement earlier this week that it was just adding podcasts into its library look a little flat. Though will even Spotify’s wider expansion of its service be enough to convince more people to hand over that all important £9.99 a month? That’s quite another question. Probably some, but perhaps not enough. Time will tell.

Ek closed the press conference by saying that everything Spotify had announced “literally brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘stay tuned'”. It literally doesn’t, but perhaps all these new features can help Spotify maintain its dominance in streaming music domain for a while longer.