Social, Again

Spotify has been emphasizing social features again, which is a nice improvement from the situation a few years ago when they shut down in-app messaging, for example. The first example of the recent turnaround may have been the beta release of Group Sessions, a particular appealing idea in a suddenly locked-down world. Now in 2021 the emphasis on the social aspect has been growing. First there were the comments in the most recent earning calls (February 9th, 2021)


Ek was asked when Spotify plans on adding social features to its platform – presumably the ability for fans to comment on tracks, for example – like what Chinese music streaming services such as Tencent Music offer.

Ek explained that Spotify is “very interested in” the idea of adding social features to the service, and that the company “obviously pay[s] close attention to everything that’s happening in markets around the world and new developments in audio”.

Added Ek: “I’ve said this many times before. We’re in the early innings of the innovation of the audio formats and creator-to-fan interactivity is definitely one of those things that we’re paying attention to and looking at.

“We are conducting experiments on it already… I don’t have any sort of specific here to announce, but there are plenty more things to come in the coming months of this year as well when it comes to creator to fan engagements.”

Of course, last week (March 30th, 2021) there was the big news that  Spotify “Acquires Locker Room and Announces Plans for a New Live Audio Experience”

In the coming months, Spotify will evolve and expand Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans. Through this new live experience, Spotify will offer a range of sports, music, and cultural programming, as well as a host of interactive features that enable creators to connect with audiences in real time. We’ll give professional athletes, writers, musicians, songwriters, podcasters, and other global voices opportunities to host real-time discussions, debates, ask me anything (AMA) sessions, and more. 

However, the most intriguing change appeared one week earlier, as TechCrunch reported on the upcoming desktop updates while linking some changes to recent Daniel Ek comments from a Clubhouse event:

[Users] can now write descriptions, upload their own images and drag and drop tracks into existing playlists. They can also use a new embedded search bar located at the top of the “Create Playlist” page to seek out new songs or even podcast episodes to add to the playlist. This could greatly speed up the somewhat tedious process of playlist creation, by reducing the steps it takes between finding a track and getting it into a playlist.

This change in particular speaks to Spotify’s growing interest in catering to curators — something co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek mentioned during his recent appearance on the PressClub show on Clubhouse.

Ek explained that he was “excited about curatorship” because when a service’s content library grows, it needs curators.

“The playlisters are incredible on Spotify, but it seems like there’s limited ability to interact with those playlisters — or for those playlisters to really understand who is listening to them and be able to build that second set of creators [who] are indirectly creating by helping other people find content to experience,” he said.

To address this challenge, Ek said Spotify would try to add more tools to allow users to become better curators, if not on a social basis, at least for themselves.

“The primary focus for us on the roadmap is just enabling you to be a much better curator even for yourself — just by, for instance, suggesting content that’s relevant to the things you’ve already put in the playlist,” he added.

These updated playlist creation tools seem like a natural first step toward Spotify’s larger goals in this area.

Are we finally going to see some functional innovation in the work of (non Chinese) music streaming apps?

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