Spotify is taking a page from the Beats playbook.
The Copenhagen-based streaming music company introduced a host of new features to its app on Wednesday, including one that delivers a personalised playlist based on a number of factors, including the time of day, your age, gender, and location, as well as what you have — and haven’t — listened to in the past.
Spotify says that a team of editors also helps choose the music, and the recommendations will get better over time as you listen more.
If that sounds a bit familiar, it’s because using a combination of data and artist curation to help you discover music is exactly what Beats Music, the streaming music service founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, played up when it launched last year. Apple ended up buying Beats a few months later for $US3 billion and will use it as the backbone for a new streaming service expected to debut as early as next month.
When you sign up for Beats, you’re taken through a series of steps that helps the service get to know your tastes. You choose the type of music and artists and bands you like and don’t like. You can also choose music by completing a sentence based on what you feel like doing.
Helping people discover music is an idea that Jimmy Iovine, the record producer and co-founder of Beats, has been talking about for years.
“There’s a sea of music out there but there’s no curation for it,” Iovine told AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg in an interview in 2013. “It’s all about what song comes next … I guarantee everyone here struggles to get music for the event or thing they’re doing at the moment.”
“We’re trying to step in,” Iovine told Mossberg. “We’re going to try to harness that and get people to listen to music in a comfortable way.”
That’s a sentiment that Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO, echoed Wednesday. He discussed the difficulty in discovering what to listen to, as fewer people go to record stores to build their music collections and instead have access to millions of songs wherever they go.
“If we truly want Spotify to be the soundtrack of our lives … we needed to be able to deliver the right music and experiences based on who we are, what we’re doing and how we’re feeling — moment by moment, day by day.”
Iovine is now an Apple executive and reportedly deeply involved in getting the new music streaming service together.
In an interview with Business Insider, Rochelle King, Spotify’s global vice president of design and user experience, would not comment on Apple’s rumoured new service. In a statement, the company said that “We think that the more players who enter the streaming space will only grow the market and drive awareness. We’re focused on building out the best experience for music fans and for artists.
But the company is clearly trying to differentiate itself from other music services as the already competitive space is poised to become even more competitive. Spotify also announced on Wednesday that subscribers will now be able to watch short videos from partners like Comedy Central and Vice, as well as listen to podcasts, within the app.
Spotify also unveiled a new feature for runners that automatically detects an athlete’s tempo and matches music to the “beat” of the run.
The idea is to keep subscribers, who pay $US9.99 per month for Spotify, in the Spotify world as much as possible, so they don’t have to close the app if they want to watch videos or listen to podcasts. Because the more they use it, the more likely they are to continue subscribing.
Unlike streaming video services, which licence different movies, TV shows and create their own programming, on-demand streaming music services have, with a few notable exceptions, the same music catalogues.
So in an increasingly competitive space, the only way these services are going to be able to differentiate themselves is by changing the experience.
And that’s what Spotify did on Wednesday.