June 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Spotify Apps Go ‘Branded’ with Intel, McDonalds

branded spotify apps intel sifter mcdonalds listenin

Spotify continued its music -app rollout with branded entries from Intel and McDonalds, adding new functionality to its desktop music player for Spotify users who choose to install them.

As music evolves into something streamed, advertising appears to be evolving into something interactive and curatorial. This move wraps both trends up into a neat package.

Intel’s Sifter app presents a colorful mosaic of songs against a dark background on three screens: Songs, Artists, and Friends. You can also “sift” through Spotify’s 16-million-plus songs by searching for any song or artist to create a fresh mosaic of songs matching that; either way, you can save these intelligent radio screens as editable playlists.

McDonalds’ ListenIn app lets you listen to the same music that all, some, or or one of your Facebook friends are listening to — also in a mosaic-like interface, sorted by popularity. This turns your what your Facebook friends are playing within Spotify into intelligent radio screens you can filter by decade; when they were listening; or even who the friends are (screenshots and details for both below).

Of course, you can listen to as many songs as you want, for free with audio ads, or ad-free at a high-quality for $5/month — and all the songs play in their entirety, whether you pay or not.

To date, every app in the Spotify App Finder (available on the free or paid desktop version) has come from a music app developer, record label, publication, or radio station, although Spotify earlier announced a plan to power a play button on Coca-Cola’s Facebook page. This marks the first time Spotify has included branded apps for non-music companies.

We will see a sea-change in advertising over the next five years,” said Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora, earlier this year. “The media has become interactive, which means you can interact with an ad and actually do something about it.”

This is the sort of thing he was talking about.

Even an ad-resistant type who pays for the premium version of Spotify, and expertly fast-forwards through television ads on a DVR, might find an app that makes great radio stations out of songs, artists, or even their friends.

Why not? There are a legions of songs in Spotify, and they sound the same no matter how you find them. Both of these branded apps work like no other in the Spotify App Finder, and could find loyal followings. In addition, because all of this takes place within Spotify, you can click any artist you find and continue your explorations that way.

Here’s some more detail on each app:

Sifter presented by Intel

This app’s specialty is generating nice-looking selections of music based on whatever song you just heard in Spotify — or any song or artist you’ve specified, for that matter (in part using musical intelligence from The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm). We particularly enjoyed the way any song or artist you find can become the seed for a whole new screen’s worth of music:

sifter songs spotify app intel

You can use Sifter to make a smart graphical radio playlist out of any song or artist in Spotify. As with any screen in Sifter, you can save it as a playlist, edit that however you want, and listen to it later on the desktop or, if you subscribe to the mobile plan, on your smartphone, tablet, television, or other non-computer device:

sifter intel spotify app

You don’t have to do anything with Facebook in order to use Sifter, unless you’ve chosen to scrobble all your Spotify plays to your Facebook page, in which case your plays in Sifter — like any other app — will show up there.

However, if you choose to link the app to your Facebook account, you can see which of your Facebook friends listened to any of the songs on any given screen within the app — a nice touch, in part, because it gives you could something relevant to talk about with that person on Facebook (i.e. “Hey, I didn’t know you rocked Pharaoh Overlord!”):

sifter facebook spotify app

McDonalds ListenIn

This Spotify desktop app (not to be confused with the mobile ones) requires that you log in with Facebook and allow it to access all your activity. Otherwise, it can’t tell what they’re listening to, which forms the core functionality of the app.

Here, ListenIn shows me the most popular songs in the last week amongst the 263 Facebook friends of mine who use Spotify — including music from all decades:

mcdonalds listenin spotify app facebook

The ListenIn app provides a nice interface for checking off one, some, or all of your Facebook friends. As it turns out, over a quarter of my Facebook friends have a listening history on Spotify, so I can listen to the music they play the most. This transforms Spotify into an interactive radio station that channels the taste of each one, or a combination of them — and I can filter those results even further, by when they listened, or what decade the music came from — nice!

mcdonalds facebook friends listenin

You can’t, however, as the description in the top image of this story might imply, listen to music with them at the same time that they’re playing it, as you can with Soundrop (in otherwords, there’s no “now” option in the timeframe filter). The advantage of this approach is that it means you can listen to these songs even if those friends don’t happen to be playing them at that exact time, which widens the listening options considerably.

If you have Spotify installed on your computer, you can try Intel Sifter and McDonalds ListenIn now for yourself.