The Spotify press event of Dec 6, 2012 is full of great feature announcements. Most importantly, Spotify has introduced their new Discovery page as well as their new Follow functionality.
As mentioned earlier, knowing what your friends listen to isn’t all that interesting. Much less does it help you discover new music. As Daniel Ek of Spotify puts it:
“Spotify today is great when you know what music you want to listen to – but not so great when you don’t.”
Check out the video of the press release (Spotify Discovery is mentioned about 16min into the vid), or read on for the highlights:
According to Ek, the biggest issue for Spotify users today is: “How can you help me figure out what I’m gonna listen to?”
The traditional approach to answering this question for online recommendations today is to present to the user a list of 500 items saying “Because you like this you might also like that.”
Spotify, on the other hand, wants to “make discovery even more seemless and intuitive” by making it “truely human” and “personal”:
“That’s not really how a friend would approach the problem. They would know what you like, and they would recommend you a few items instead – but with a ton of context.”
Hence Spotify wants to “give Discovery on Spotify the context that’s been missing”.
Whereas previously recommendations basically were just lists of songs, artist or albums (or just “cover art” as Ek puts it),
“Now in Spotify recommendations come with context for why they fit my tastes.”
The new Discovery page
He continues to present the new Discovery function on the web app:
The Discovery tab basically gives recommendations for artists or album based on your music taste. However, there’s an extra layer of context. For example, it will give small artist biography for recommended artists. Or, it will tell you why an artist is suggested for you (“You listen to Deadmau5. Check out Daft Punk.”). It will tell you when one of the artists you like releases a new album (“You might like this new release by Muse”), or reminds you of your old favorites (“Do you remember this song?”) – even based on your personal data such as your birthday.
Moreover, it integrates information such as upcoming concerts (from Songkick), reviews (from Pitchfork), or news about artists that I follow.
Basically, they take all the content that’s available via the Spotify app platform, and feed it into Spotify Discovery.
In summary, the Discovery page adds context and combines personalisation and recommendations to give users a more helpful and natural user experience.
Seems like quite a powerful tool to me if it’s done right. Looking forward to trying it out on my own!
Ek continues to argue that the best context that users can possibly get is a recommendation from a real person that you trust.
“Social has always been a very big part of what we do here at Spotify, but up until now finding people who can introduce you to music you cared about has been pretty hard.”
Even though “you had access to all your friends on Facebook”, but “there’s really only a handful of these guys that are amazing sources of music”. Hence Spotify has introduces a new follow functionality, which allows you to follow artists, music journalists, or companys in the music space. It works pretty much like facebook: once you follow someone, stuff they post will show up in your newsfeed.
The beauty of this really is that it a allows – like on Facebook – artist to communicate with their fans directly, be it sharing playlists or announcing new releases.
“Now artists can talk back and they engage their fans right where they already are, right when they are ready to try new music.”
Pretty cool stuff coming up I’d say!