Spotify is testing a new Stories feature that will allow select influencers to incorporate video elements into their public playlists, TechCrunch has learned and Spotify confirmed. The first influencer to test the feature is makeup and fashion YouTube star Summer Mckeen, who currently has a social media fan base that includes 2.33 million YouTube subscribers, 2.1 million Instagram followers and 126,455 Spotify followers. Mckeen is using the new feature to introduce a playlist of her all-time favorite songs, which she’s titled her “all time besties.”
Like other Stories’ products found on social media apps, the Spotify version offers a similar experience that includes short video clips that users can tap on to advance to the next screen. There are also horizontal lines at the top that indicate how many screens still await them.
Above: where Stories are found on playlists
Meanwhile, the entry point for the Spotify Story is a circular icon found above the playlist’s title. This has also been designed to catch your attention with an animated preview of the video you’ll see if you tap through.
Above: Mckeen introduces her playlist of favorite songs
Once in the Story, the clips will play and advance automatically and the playlist where you found the Story is featured at the top. You can also tap the “X” to exit at any time.
Spotify’s unique take on the Stories format involves its use of music, of course.
In the new Stories feature, the influencer can also share video clips that contain small song snippets and the album art as a way of previewing the songs in the playlist. In Mckeen’s case, a few of these follow her introduction of the new playlist.
Above: Song clips in Stories
Mckeen is the first influencer to go live on Spotify Stories, but we understand the company is also planning to roll this out to other notable names across the entertainment, lifestyle and music industries in the near future. This initial group of testers is being determined by a variety of factors — including follower count, how engaged their followers are and how active the influencer in question is on Spotify. Mckeen was selected because she’s someone who likes to make playlists on her own and has many user-generated playlists she shares with fans.
Spotify isn’t currently rolling out the feature to its artists, as it’s meant to be more a tool for music discovery, rather than one for promotional purposes. Artists, instead, can reach fans creatively using Canvas — the recently launched looping videos product that can take the place of album art when a song plays. However, the company isn’t ruling out letting artists try the Stories product in the future.
Despite the similarity with other Stories found on apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, Spotify’s goal isn’t to turn its app into another social media platform. Instead, it will rely on the influencers to get the word out to fans themselves using their existing accounts found elsewhere. Mckeen, for example, posted to her Instagram Stories with a deep link directly to the playlist in question.
Above: Mckeen’s IG Story
Currently, the Spotify Stories product can only be seen on iOS and Android, not desktop. (Mckeen’s is here.) And it’s available to all Spotify users — free and paid — although that could one day change. Spotify considers the product just a test for now, but is open to considering a broader rollout in the future.
Spotify confirmed the test to TechCrunch and offered a short statement.
“At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience. Some of those tests end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning,” a Spotify spokesperson said. “We have no further news to share on future plans at this time,” they added.
This is not the first time Spotify has dabbled with a Stories format, however. Last year, Spotify was spotted testing a Stories-like product called Storyline that was similar to “Behind the Lyrics,” but instead allowed artists to share their own insights, inspiration and other details more directly. This can still be found on Spotify on select songs, but hasn’t become broadly available.