Spotify just changed its entire free mobile app -- Here's everything you need to know

The days of turning to your local radio station to hear the latest tunes on-demand have become less frequent, as music lovers and listeners have become well-versed in the era of streaming.

The concept of listening to any song you want -- on the go or at home -- through an app or music streaming service is one that has essentially become synonymous with the Spotify name itself.

The streaming service (which was publicly listed on the NYSE on April 3, 2018) hosts over 35 million songs enjoyed by nearly 71 million subscribers — something that has completely disrupted the music industry, as Gustav Söderström, Chief Research and Development Officer at Spotify, stated:

‘Music is not a feature, its not a marketing strategy for something else — it’s what we do. It’s what we’re passionate about. We’re only going to be successful if the music industry is successful.’

But, as with most good things in life, the top-notch version will cost you ($9.99 per month to be exact), leaving the free streaming version with limited features such as the inability to skip songs and listen to music offline (while connected to 3G).

Last updated in 2014, with the rolling out of Free on Spotify for mobile, the free version of the platform has been completely revamped in a way that Söderström says that:

‘[Spotify] thinks it’s going to have a significant impact not just on Spotify but on the entire music industry.’

Take a visual look at the new changes below:

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Spotify new free mobile features
Assisted playlisting 
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Noting that Spotify ‘has always had a great free desktop experience … when we started Spotify eight years ago, this was where most people discovered their music,’ the free tier of the mobile app has also notably offered users ‘something for nothing … the greatest value proposition in the history of the world’ — and with the free version of the platform’s newest features, Spotify is making that value proposition even greater.

The first notable change is allowing users to have control over what songs and selections they can listen to for the first time on the free version of the app.

Spotify will hand select and curate 15 playlists for each user under a new feature called ‘Pick and Play’ — the app will select songs through an algorithm based on what the user enjoys listening to and what they’re most likely to enjoy based on what songs, artists and genres that are often listened to in conjunction with what that user most frequently listens to.

These playlists will be unique to each user and can include popular personalized playlists that Spotify subscribers are already familiar with, such as Discover Weekly, Release Radar and Daily Mix alongside Spotify-wide genre generated playlists like RapCaviar and Ultimate Indie.

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Spotify unveils new free mobile product
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Vice President of Product Development at Spotify, Babar Zafar, elaborated that users will have ‘control over what music they hear as they engage with recommendations on the home screen’ — listeners can like or hide certain songs or artists as they go, allowing the algorithm to continue to generate towards becoming as aligned with the specific user’s likes and dislikes as possible as it continues to recommend songs and selections.

The ability to skip songs is also a game-changer for free users who were previously inhibited in this arena, as Zafar explained that ‘free users can now go directly to specific songs and listen to them on demand — they can pick and play the songs they want to hear. They can also skip the songs they don’t want to hear on those 15 playlists’, driving home the point that ‘this is something that has never been done before for free.’

Along with this feature, free users will now also have the ability to create their own playlists, with the app continuing to recommend songs based on which tracks the user chooses to save to those playlists.

The last major change is what the company is calling ‘Data Saver’ which essentially an opt-in switch that free users can flip on that will begin ‘proactively cacheing songs based on what we think you’ll want to hear’, explains Zafar. In short, the feature will begin creatively using the Spotify user’s device to store music on it ahead of time so that they can consume and listen to music while on 3G, instead of Wi-Fi.

The future of Spotify and music streaming as a whole seems to be in an upward trajectory.

Troy Carter,Global Head of Creator Services at Spotify,points out that eight years ago, ‘Everyone was skeptical about this new technology. But once the industry got to know us, they quickly realized that we weren’t a threat.’

The formula is simple for both creatives and listeners alike.

Söderström asserts that focusing on improving the free tier of the platform ‘will help us drive growth for the industry and for creatives … the better our free experience, the more likely our free users will become premium users.’

Söderström also admits that ‘We believe the music industry is still way too small’, but with music streaming continuing to roll out new features, technology and constant improvements, we can only newest see the industry expanding — and Spotify will be right at the forefront of that. 

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