Spotify introduced a redesigned app experience for its 90 million free users at an event in New York City. It is the initial major change to the free tier of Spotify since 2014. The free listeners now would receive on-demand access to 15 “select” playlists; they could play any song that they wish inside those playlists and are no longer stuck in a world of shuffled playback. The users would have to deal with shuffle beyond those 15 playlists, but this still is a significant modification over how the things have been till now.
However, those are not the playlists that the users make themselves. Spotify generates the 15 full-control playlists on the basis of the users’ listening habits and is updated constantly, most of them daily. They involve a total of 750 songs. Release Radar, Discover Weekly, and Daily Mix playlists are included, so it would be nice to have more flexibility with those.
Spotify said that the users have created over 2 billion playlists. The updated app would assist the users with this “playlisting” process by suggesting songs, which are similar to those that they have added already right below the search bar.
Spotify also would now ask the free customers to choose their favorite artists as soon as they begin with the app, letting the service to provide immediately personalized playlists tuned to their tastes. The new Spotify even has a “data saver” mode, which is meant to make life easier for the people on a capped data usage plan. Spotify said that it currently is in the process of rolling out the redesigned app experience to everybody.
At the start of the event, Gustav Söderström, the chief R&D officer of Spotify touted the three tentpoles that have got Spotify success. Those are personalization, ubiquity, and freemium. He said that Spotify is both the radio station and the record store. The freemium aspect particularly is crucial; Spotify has got over 90 million free users. It is where 60 percent of paid users start out. The goal of the company is to keep the free users satisfied and not have them feeling like second-class listeners.
The company, however, is aware that in the recent years, it has prioritized the monthly subscribers over the free listeners. Söderström said that over the last several years, they have made Spotify’s premium mobile experience top notch. Further, he said that the mobile free tier has stayed exactly the same since 2014 and discovering music in shuffle mode is a tricky proposition. But that is changing with this revamped experience.
One thing that Spotify did not discuss much at the event was voice. It has been testing voice commands inside its mobile app, providing the users a route to music that is faster than thumbing out whatever it is they are looking for. Söderström said that Spotify is investing in voice, but it did not have any news to share at the event. In a very small international rollout at the beginning of 2018, Spotify released a standalone “Stations” app that exclusively is dedicated to the playlists. The mysterious in-car player was a no-show at the event. Voice and hardware apparently would have to wait for another event.