It looks like Spotify is about to launch an entirely new way for you to browse its catalogue with more sophisticated playlists. While the subscription music service hasn't officially launched the features, they're live on Spotify's web player. If like a lot of people you get lost in Spotify's catalogue, you're going to love what could be coming soon.
Last November, Spotify announced a fresh web-based interface that came complete with new "Discover" and "Follow" tabs, which were supposed to revolutionise the way that we browsed Spotify's catalogue. You would get recommendations based on the music you listen to, as well as based on what the friends and trendsetters you follow like.
But in more than one way, the revolution turned out to be a mess. Take, for example, what you see when you land on Spotify's Discover page. Sure Spotify is offering me a couple of suggestions (and they're good ones), but if that's not what I want, there's not a clear course of action. If I don't want Dirty Projectors or Galaxie 500, I'm either going to have to start scrolling, or I'm just going to default back to the playlists I've already made for myself. Most users, we're willing to hazard, do the latter.
Now, take a look at this new "Browse" page and tell me it isn't a refreshing alternative.
Instead of three suggestions, Spotify provides real-life context cues for what it's giving you. In short, the new interface is built around offering you new options based on...
...activities you're likely to be participating in...
...the mood you're in...
...or even new releases — a feature that was tragically removed from Spotify as of late.
We've played around with the new interface — and we're really excited about how much better it could make the Spotify experience. From both a design and content perspective, the new features introduce a sense of coherence to Spotify's catalogue jungle. And really, it's been Spotify's catalogue — along with its social integration — that's made Spotify a leader in this business all along. It gets crushed by competitors like Rdio when it comes to discovery.
In each of the different sections of the Browse feature the service reigns in Spotify's sprawling catalogue with some curation and editorial judgement that Spotify would seem to need. The new discovery features haven't fixed the blank stare effect where a user doesn't know what to do. But cues like mood, whether or not you're working out, and playlists themed for news or holidays could really make a big difference.
Before we go too much further we should probably note that these forthcoming Spotify changes could've been predicted by anybody who has been paying attention to Spotify's moves. Back in May, the company acquired a curated playlist service called Tunigo, which still exists within a sandbox on Spotify's desktop client. This content is identical to what you see on Tunigo right now. The staff still have "Tunigo.com" email addresses even when their profiles on social networks indicate they work for Spotify.
We can't say for sure if this is a final product that Spotify plans to roll out. So far, Spotify's head of communications has only responded that the company "tests a lot of features to see what works best." According to the company, this is a test that's only available to a limited number of users, however, we were able to access it even when weren't logged in. And we have yet to speak with anyone who can't see it. When we learn more, we'll let you know.
But if the features launched like this tomorrow, or any time, it would be a welcome shot in the arm.