Spotify has just unveiled the newest version of the product at a media event here in New York City.
Alongside the introduction of new media types, such as podcasts and videos, the service will also serve up playlists that are more personalized and relevant to what you’re doing at the time.
“Music is moving away from genres,” said Daniel Ek on stage. “People don’t search for Hip Hop or Country anymore, but rather they search around activities or a particular experience.”
As opposed to focusing on genres, the service will act more like Songza and take into account what music you’ve listened to in the past, information about who you are (like age and location) and the time of day. Spotify pays closer attention to what you have historically listened to over the course of the day and puts together playlists that will work for that particular time.
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For example, in the morning, a user might see playlists like “Wake Up Happy” or “Sunrise Run” or perhaps one that the user has already created and listens to often during that time.
Users can swipe from one playlist to the next and those playlists will auto-play, giving the user a feel for what’s inside.
Spotify is able to do this by having troves of data (25 billion hours of listening since launch) that it can leverage to understand how people stream music together, when they listen to different music, and how similar they are to other users.
But it goes beyond relevancy.
Spotify is also adding in new types of media content, such as Video, News and Podcasts. We had heard about Spotify’s plans to add podcast and video content for the past few months, and it seems today it comes to fruition.
Some media partners include NBC, Slate, Vice NEWS, BBC, NBC, ABC, Conde Nast brands (GQ, Vogue, Wired), Comedy Central MTV, E!, TeamCoco, Adult Swim, Elite Daily, TED, CBS Radio, PRX, and many more.
It seems, from the announcement, that much of the video content will be served as clips from popular shows and programs. For example, Comedy Central will be offering clips from their ultra-popular show Broad City.
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The new Spotify also has a brand new “Running” feature that taps into the many sensors of your phone (accelerometer, gyroscope, etc.) to figure out the pace at which you’re running and serve you a playlist with the perfect BPMs in each song. Plus, the playlist is still centered around your established tastes.
But going beyond timing out the music so that it matches the beat of your feet against the ground, Spotify is also creating a new format of music, wherein the composition actually changes and rearranges based on your pace. The feature is launching with six different experiences. Running experiences will be available through the Nike app and RunKeeper app later this summer.
The new Spotify will launch in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Sweden today.
Overall, the shift from manually selected genres to automatically personalized playlists should make Spotify easier for casual music fans. Meanwhile, adding podcasts could rope in hardcore news and talk radio fans. Both could help Spotify get more users trying its free ad-supported tier, and then converting them into paid subscribers. Artists and labels might resent the free tier and Spotify bulking it up with more content types, but it’s how the service teaches people it’s worth paying for.
However, video feels like a stretch. Much of Spotify’s listening is passive. On mobile, people are rocking out on the go or while exercising, and on desktop they’re playing it in the background while they web surf. Video is an active experience where you stare at the screen. That’s a very different behavior.
Developing a video offering could distract Spotify at a critical time, as it will have to fend off Apple’s new streaming music service this summer. Sure, it could let Spotify rack up lucrative video as views. But the Swedish startup might be better off strengthening its core product than picking fights on more fronts.