Spotify officially launches a shared-queue feature called Group Session

Spotify is introducing a new feature, Group Session, that will allow two or more of its Premium users in the same space to share control over the music being played. Essentially a “party mode” of sorts, Group Session participants can control what’s playing in real time as well as contribute to a collaborative playlist for the group.

The company notes that the feature can be used among quarantine-mates and families — groups that are now spending long hours at home together, where they now work, play, cook, dance and more with Spotify running in the background.

To use the feature, the “host” will tap the Connect menu in the bottom-left corner of their Play screen, then share with their “guests” the scannable code that appears. The guests then join the session by scanning the host’s code. Then, using Spotify’s built-in controls, they’re able to pause, play, skip and select tracks on the queue and add choices of their own to be played next. The changes any guest makes are immediately displayed to all participants’ devices.

Spotify already offers ways for groups to share their favorite music, but in more limited ways. The company offers a way to build Collaborative playlists with friends, where everyone can add, delete and reorder tracks. In addition, Spotify Premium Family plan members can listen to a personalized playlist called Family Mix that combines the music that everyone enjoys.

However, neither of these options offer a way to collaborate in real time, as Group Session does.

The Group Session feature has been in testing since last year, where it was first uncovered by noted reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong back in May 2019. Others had also reported seeing it appear on their own accounts later in August. That means some users may have had the feature before today. However, it’s only now being made globally available to all Premium users.

At the time of its initial development, Spotify may have envisioned the feature as a way to make its app go viral, as users would download Spotify in order to contribute to a party playlist — perhaps by scanning a code that appeared on the party host’s TV, for example. But with the coronavirus pandemic limiting gatherings and people isolating themselves at home, the company is instead positioning Group Session as a way for families and housemates to entertain themselves.

By tying a feature like this to its Premium subscription, Spotify is hoping to encourage more of its free users to make the jump to its paid, music-on-demand streaming service. It’s a good time for this sort of push, too.

More people are staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, and are looking for ways to be entertained. Streaming, particularly video, is up. And Spotify said during its April earnings it was seeing double-digit increases over the past few weeks in listening around in-home activities, like cooking, chores, family time and more.

Today, Spotify says Group Session is launching into beta, meaning it’s still being tested and developed. It can used by Premium account holders, including users who share the same Spotify Premium Family account. The feature can support up to 100 users, but they have to be in the same physical space at this time.

The version launching today is the first iteration of the feature, and Spotify expects it will evolve over time as it learns more from user feedback. It may even expand beyond people sharing the same space in the future.

Group Session is rolling out today, so you may not see it just yet. The feature will be available to all Premium users worldwide when the rollout completes.