Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Spotify Unveils New 'Freemium' Features

Spotify today announced a new version of its free app, reflecting the company’s belief that creating a better user experience for unpaid subscribers will result in more paid subscribers.

VentureBeat reports among changes, users can now pick and play songs in any order from 15 of Spotify’s personalized discover playlists. Previously, users of the free app could only listen to playlists on shuffle.

Users can still create their own playlists on the free app, but they don’t get control over the order those songs are played. The free users also now get recommendations of other songs to add when they save a new song to a playlist. And the free mobile app comes with a new home screen that emphasizes the playlists.

Spotify is also introducing a “data saver” option that the company claims can help users of the free app cut their data consumption by up to 75 percent. Users will have to manually switch on the data saver option if they want to use it when they download the new version of the free app.

During an hour-long presentation, Spotify’s chief R&D officer Gustav Söderström, vp product development Babar Zafar and global head of creator services Troy Carter outlined the company’s multi-pronged upgrades, which give its 90 million-plus "freemium" users around the global greater control and a simpler interface when browsing and listening to the service’s 35 million licensed tracks, as well as new controls to help them manage the data that streaming takes up on mobile phones, according to Billboard.

"Previously, personalization took too long to kick in," Zafar said, noting that new users who download the app will be asked right away to identify their favorite artists, meaning that recommendations begin immediately. "We have accelerated our ability to understand what people want to hear."

That also means an upgrade to how playlists are made, with an eye towards taking the appeal of radio out of the equation. Zafar introduced a tool called "assisted playlisting," a tool that allows users to type in an event or mood -- "birthday party" was the example used -- and receive "contextual recommendations relevant to your music tastes," which will be continually-updated as users add songs to the playlist.

Carter, in his remarks, put a more finely-tuned point on it: "Our ad-supported service functions like the biggest radio station in the world," he said, noting that "10 billion times a month, listeners across both Spotify and Spotify premium stream a new artist they’ve never heard before." He also pointed out that 71 percent of Spotify’s monthly active users -- 157 million worldwide -- are under the age of 34. "This makes the free product that much more important for artists," Carter said. "There are millions of music fans who can’t afford $9.99 a month. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t music fans. Artists can’t afford to ignore that audience."

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