A Product Wishlist for Spotify

Like many commuters, I rely on podcasts and music to keep me sane during the daily trek to and from work . This allows me the chance to listen to a lot of music on Spotify every day, both on mobile and desktop. Throughout my sonic journeys i’ve made the occasional note on a humble suggestion I have for the service, and they’ve accumulated over the months. A few themes emerged, which I’ve expanded on below:

  1. More Context
  2. Richer Messaging & Social
  3. Tools for Power Users

So, Spotify: if you happen to read this, take it or leave it! Anyone else: I’d love to hear your suggestions too!

1. More Context

  • Location-based music suggestions

Just landed in Chicago? Spotify should suggest listening to some Paul Butterfield or Wilco. In London for the weekend? How about some of the best from the British Invasion.

On Spotify’s developer site, there’s a great plugin that takes this concept to the next level called Roadtrip Mixtape (created by Paul Lamere). Users input the start and end points of their roadtrip, and the app creates a playlist featuring artists from each leg of the journey. This might be a corner case for most users, but the fundamentals could be applied instantly.

A roadtrip from LA to San Diego suggests some local punk and surf rock.
  • Feature the music of World Events and Festivals more prominently

Snapchat Stories does an exceptional job of capturing the energy of live events as they unfold around the globe. Today, for example, I could tag along with US presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa, or observe the Australia Day festivities in Sydney. Though music may not be as immersive as video, the same concept can be applied to Spotify’s suggested listening in the ‘Browse’ tab.

The possibilities are obvious and endless: during Mardi Gras, feature brass bands and Dr. John; during the NBA All Star Weekend, partner with the league to showcase some of the players’ favorite tracks; and leading up to large music festivals, such as Bonnaroo and Glastonbury, feature the music of the artists performing. On Australia Day? Suggest Australian music and artists!

Strides have been made here: upon opening the Browse tab this morning, I’m greeted with ‘#SPOTIFYNMF’ (Spotify New Music Friday), along with a playlist with new songs. When David Bowie passed away, Spotify was quick to feature his music here — a very nice touch. But this can be taken much further.

  • Create a Concert Schedule page listing upcoming shows…

Spotify already has a deep integration with Songkick, a company that tracks alerts users when their favorite artists are performing in their area. A simple list of upcoming shows, personalized for each Spotify user, is an easy win. [Update]: while drafting this yesterday, I was prompted to check out the new ‘Concerts’ screen! That was easy:

Nothing wrong with a little 50 Cent every once in a while.

2. Richer Messaging & Social

  • …and create a separate page for each Concert for posting Photos and Videos, Transportation Coordination, and Ticket Exchanges

The music business is no longer about album sales and radio play (thanks in part to services like this one, of course) — artists make their money playing live shows. Spotify can do a better job making itself an indispensable part of the concert goer’s experience.

Before concerts and festivals, event Facebook pages like this one become a tornado of requests and offers to buy and sell tickets. A simple integration with (or at least link to) StubHub or SeatGeek could help reduce friction and keep people close to Spotify from the discovery to purchase phase.

After live shows, these same Facebook pages are flooded with fan-shot photos and videos. Why not capture that energy inside Spotify’s walled garden? I‘m also envisioning a ‘My Concerts’ section of each user’s profile, where festival junkies could compete for the most events attended, with each concert linking to the main page for it.

  • Groups/Channels/Rooms

I find myself often sharing songs with the same 4 or 5 people each time I find a track they might like. A simple group function with messaging and ‘likes’ would encourage more sharing and discovery.

One of my favorite features of SoundCloud is the ability for users to add annotations at different points in a song. Spotify Groups could adopt this too:

I agree with ‘MusicmagicMitch’ at 1:38
  • Make the Listening Stream more ‘Newsfeedy’

For the love of God, let me make fun of my friend when I catch him listening to No Scrubs 3 times in a row. This doesn’t need to be complicated: add a thumbs up, a thumbs down, and a few emoji reactions. Also, enable the listening stream on mobile.

  • Add a Dating module

Don’t laugh. We’ve all heard some form of the modern day aphorism that the only thing required for two people to date is a shared taste for shows on Netflix. You could say the same thing about music.

I couldn’t find any data on the percentage of Spotify users that log in via Facebook, but I’d bet that it starts with an 8 or 9. Set up a simple 2- or 3-degrees-of-separation rule, and match people based on artists and genres that they both listen to. The icebreaker is built in, as is the first date suggestion: a link to an upcoming concert.

  • Jukebox Mode

In December, Spotify launched Party, a neat feature which mixes curated or personal playlists into a party playlist with smooth transitions, and the ability to turn a dial to adjust the intensity of the music from mellow to Vegas at 2am.

Quite an eclectic group at this bar

A natural extension for this is something similar to what Rockbot does. It’s an app that allows bar and restaurant patrons to propose and vote on the next song to be played from their phones (see left). Results are displayed on a monitor so that those who chose the song can be applauded or booed.

Whenever a large group of my friends are around, we fight over what music gets played. By each connecting to a common Bluetooth device or Apple TV/Chromecast, and voting within the Spotify app, the same fun group experience could be emulated in a private setting. Jukebox mode √

3. Tools for Power Users

I may be getting greedy here, but here are some tweaks that I’d love to see, some of which are borrowed from the original iTunes playbook:

  • Filters and Business rules for Playlists

Examples of some I’d use:

1) IF Beats per Minute > 150, THEN add to Workout Playlist

2) IF Artist = ‘Wynton Marsalis’, THEN add to Jazz Playlist (This way any of his new music will automatically flow into the Playlist)

  • Ability to change the Start and End Times of Songs

Don’t like waiting around for the 1 minute, 20 second long intro to finish every time you listen to Money for Nothing? Set the start time to 1:20!

  • Playlist cleanup

Spotify playlists saved for offline listening are the biggest reason why I rarely have any storage available in my phone. It would be awesome to hit a ‘Cleanup Playlists’ button every so often that removed any songs that hadn’t been played much in the past X days.

  • ‘Newly Added’ Playlist

If you’re like me, you have a bunch of different playlists for different purposes: focusing on work, exercising, and sleeping on a plane, for example. When I find a new song I like, I tend to add it to one of these playlists, and it’s easy to forget about it until Im back in that context. It’d be nice to have a playlist that only includes songs that you’ve added to any playlist in the last 30 days or so.

  • Improved Radio

I seem to get the same songs over and over again on Radio mode, even after tuning the recommendations via the thumps up and thumbs down buttons. And to quote John Lennon, I know I’m not the only one. Also, if I seed a radio station with a 100-track playlist, I should receive a more diverse set of recommendations than I tend to get. Spotify has the data and data scientists to compete with Pandora on the quality of its Radio, it’s just a matter of desire.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your suggestions — both for Spotify and music to check out — in the comments.