Spotify’s next step to improve it’s streaming service…

Music has been the center of the lives of so many of us. From 8-track to cassette to CD to MP3 to iPod and now to Spotify or any of the other music streaming services out there, historically speaking we have made so many advances in music.

Today, all we have to do to hear our favorite tunes is bark out a simple command to your virtual assistant and away you go.

Shared experiences are the future

Despite the ease of access to the music we love, by human nature, we have an innate urge to share with others experiences that we enjoy, music being no exception. Currently there are a few ways we can share music but they all fall short and most often get ignored.

Sure, you can share a Spotify track on social media, but what is the likelihood that someone else realistically clicks on it? And if they do, it is a one time engagement that only lasts the length of that song.

One thing people love doing is going to social events, parties, clubs, restaurants, bars, etc. In all of which you share one common experience with everyone else there. Music is being played. Whether it is played by a DJ, or on the radio, music is being listened to and enjoyed by everyone there. It lightens and livens up the mood.

Why can’t we take that concept and build it into our favorite music streaming service (obviously Spotify).

Let me show you what this might look like…

Introducing Rooms

Imagine a new “Rooms” view that looks something like this.

You click on a room, lets say “Jam While You Work”, because hey, you are at work and don’t have time to go somewhere to enjoy tunes with your friends. Once you’ve entered the Room you then see this.

Right when you enter the room, you see its title, description, the room’s DJ’s, what is currently playing in the room and a history of what was played in that room. To the right you see room activity to chat with those in the room and any other room activity. You will also see follow and join buttons.

When you click Join, you will notice that the track that is currently playing in the room plays on your device. It starts playing in the middle of the song because you are tuning in to listen to what everyone else is listening to just as if you were walking into a physical room.

You’ll also notice a Be a DJ button appears. Let’s click it and see what happens…

Looks like you are a DJ in the room now! You’ll notice it adds my name with my avatar to the list of DJ’s. The active DJ is indicated by the avatars brighter appearance. The next DJ will play the next song in their queue after the current song is over. It will proceed that way alternating between DJ’s for ever song until the DJ steps down by clicking the step down button.

A room can have a maximum of five DJ’s. If a DJ’s queue is empty and is their turn to play a song, that DJ will step down automatically and it will skip to the next DJ.

You will also see a thumbs up and thumbs down icon to the right of the active playing song both in the room and in your now playing bar. If the majority of listeners give the current song a thumbs up, it will look like this…

However, if enough listeners give it a thumbs down, the room will look like this.

If an overwhelming majority give it a thumbs down, the song will be skipped and the next DJ’s song will be played.

Before it is your turn, you can add songs to your queue by dragging them to the room like so…

And then when it is your turn your avatar will light up and the next song in your queue will be played…

As it stands today, the Friends activity sidebar is great because it lets you know what other friends are listening to. With this concept implemented, wouldn’t it be great if you could click “listen with them”? That user might be notified that you are listening with them. You could then optionally create a room where you could alternate songs with that friend.

The advantages of a shared experience

If implemented correctly, this could lead to a lot of excitement and generate a lot of user engagement. It could be how artists launch their new album for the first time, It could be used by various companies to generate excitement about a particular event, service, or product.

Spotify could even partner with local or franchised shops and restaurants. Rather than playing music from the radio or from a playlist of songs, the shop could play music from a Spotify room they would set up. If you ever are wondering what is that song playing while shopping or at a restaurant open Spotify up and it would suggest that you join the shops room based on your current location. You could even continue listening after you left which would promote both Spotify and the store in which you were shopping at. Spotify could even send a notification to your device suggesting that you continue listening.

This would all mean so much for music discovery because you are now exposed to what other people are listening to. If you like something that is being played in a room you would simply add it to your library just like you add anything else on Spotify.

Big tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are understanding the negative psychological effects tech can have and are doing something about it. As a society we can get a little too reclusive, so I think we could benefit by a little more social interaction in using a product that would otherwise be a solo experience.

This would also give Spotify a huge competitive advantage over other comparable services out there. Nobody else is doing this (well).

The idea of bringing people together to listen to music has been done before, just in older and more traditional ways like Beats One. Sure it’s a streaming experience that many enjoy, but if I want to listen to the radio, I’d just turn on the radio. It was a nice attempt but I don’t think it quite made the mark.

Learning from the past

Most of this idea isn’t anything new. Turntable.fm proved to be incredibly popular in it’s day. When it was first launched in May 2011, it went from only just a few users to over 420K active users in only two months! At one point real artists and DJ’s got on and hosted events.

Between the cute bobbing heads, to the Lame/Awesome gauge, Turntable was very well designed for it’s time and it is unfortunate that it was eventually shut down.

There have since been poor attempts to recreate it, Plug.dj, Cred.fm, Rolling.fm, PicoTube, and BeatRobo, just to name a few.

There is even an app that works pretty well with Spotify called JBQX (jqbx.fm). But not many people know about it and it requires you to download a separate app, so none of my friends are on it. It’s UI is cluttered and lacking polish. The app as a whole is slightly buggy. For what it does, it is the best solution out there now though.

Image credit: Emogo and currybet

So why did Turntable.fm fail? Well as we learn here, it wasn’t creating long-lasting habits amongst its user-base. It had great perceived utility, but never reached that “habit-zone”.

Fortunately, as depicted, Spotify already has a great perceived utility but more importantly it is already frequently used so it has reached that habit-zone. Just imagine what would happen if we combined the two and implemented the above concept!

Final thoughts

So the question stands… Is this something that is worth building into an already successful product? Is the potential benefit worth the development effort?

We can definitely see the growing success of other social networking platforms out there and we know that people love music so I think the need is obviously there. It is now up to Spotify to decide if this is a worthwhile pursuit.

Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @austincondiff. Also be sure to share and give this post a few claps if you like this idea.

Austin Condiff
Visual Designer & User Interface Developer
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