At a packed press event in downtown Manhattan on Thursday, Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek (a.k.a. the “most important man in music,” pictured above), unveiled a full slate of new features for the most popular music subscription service in the world. The new version will roll out at some unspecified time early next year.
First, the Spotify chief explained where the company is coming from these days.
“We think of ourselves as punks,” explained Ek. “I don’t mean the kind that are up to no good, but the kind that are against the establishment… We are punks because we are restless, and we hate when people tell us, ‘This is the way it is.’ We’re punks in a positive sense… We want to build something.”
Here’s the rundown on what Spotify has built most recently, and announced at today’s event (update: screenshot gallery below):
Until today, the only way to collect music in Spotify was to add songs, albums, or playlists to your own set of playlists, because Ek saw playlists as the best way to collect music. For many users, this meant dealing with an unweildy glut of playlists on the left side of the desktop player, whose length rendered it fairly useless.
To fix that relatively major issue, Spotify did something it probably should have done a long time ago: It added a new feature called Collection, which gets a dedicated tab in the left navigation bar. You can now put music in your collection, you know, to collect it.
Personalized, Push Recommendations
“Everyone’s Spotify is going to look totally different,” said Ek. “If you’re a big metal fan, it’s going to be all metal. Or if you’re a blog writer, it’s going to be all hip and cool music.”
If Spotify knows you’re a fan of an artist, it will recommend that you hear their new album, for example. This stuff just shows up in your feed, piecemeal, rather than offering up a big list.
“It uses everything it knows about me to make great suggestions,” he added. “It knows I was nine when Kriss Kross was topping the charts in Sweden… I even wore my pants backwards back then.”
If Spotify knows you love an artist and they release a new album, you’ll get a notification on your phone (we assume this one is for premium subscribers, because Spotify’s free mobile apps are only for radio). This lets you listen to it right away… probably on Tuesday, because that’s when most albums come out, but it should also work when Spotify adds an album that had been withheld from the service.
“Every single Bruno Mars follower will immediately get notified when he has new songs,” said Ek, demonstrating the feature, “and with a swipe, I am listening.”
Recommendations from People
You’ve already been able to share playlists with other Spotify users, as well as via Facebook. Spotify makes this feature more noticeable in the new version by including them in the main discovery feed.
“You need technology and real people for the best music discovery experience,” said Ek.
In addition, you get a “Music Graph,” which recommends people for you to check out, which leads us to…
Following People and Artists
You can search Spotify for people or have then recommended to you based on your taste, then connect follow them. To demonstrate, Ek followed Barack Obama. You get a graphics-intensive feed showing what the people you follow have been listening to, and can click through to their Spotify profiles. This lives in a new Follow tab.
One of the main applications of this, according to Ek, will be fans following their favorite artists to see what they are listening to — sort of like Evolver.fm proposed here.
This is a minor one, but it’s neat. If you’re already listening to something, and you spot something you might want to listen to later, you can preview it without losing your place in whatever you were listening to before. This should make it easier to discover and collect music without interruption.
If Spotify knows you like an artist, and they go on tour, it will now alert you within the desktop app without you doing anything special. This feature is powered by Songkick, a Spotify app platform launch partner.
Throughout the new Spotify, images are large and prominent — it almost looks like Pinterest. And instead of album covers, most of the images are of artists.
“People might not know what the album cover looks like,” said Ek, “but they know what the artist looks like.”
New Web Player in 2013
Ek didn’t provide any detail here, other than that Spotify will launch an updated web player in early 2013.
More Spotify announcements, interviews, and news:
- Exclusive Interview: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Talks Royalties, Social and The Future
- Surprise: Spotify Never Imposed U.S. Limits (and Extended Free Listening Based on Science)
- Coke Wants To Buy the World a Spotify
- Spotify Apps Go ‘Branded’ with Intel, McDonalds
- Music App Developers Anticipate Spotify-Driven Boom
- Bon Iver Teams with Spotify, Indaba for Fan Remixes
Update: Here’s a screenshot gallery:
And here’s Spotify’s promo video for the new version:
Photo: Eliot Van Buskirk