Today Spotify held an event in New York City where it announced several changes to its mobile app that impact users of both free and paid tiers of the service. Jordan Crook reports for TechCrunch:
Spotify’s...free tier has always limited users to shuffle. With the new version, users can listen on-demand to whatever song they want, as many times as they want, as long as those songs appear on one of the 15 personalized discovery playlists like Daily Mix, Discover Weekly, Release Radar or Today’s Top Hits.
Considering the breadth of Spotify's discovery playlists, the ability to choose songs from those playlists on-demand is a significant change. Crook also mentions how machine learning is being used not just to impact the quality of those discovery playlists, but also, now, to help users make better playlists themselves. This new feature, called "assisted playlisting," aids in playlist creation by recommending songs below the search field that are similar to the songs you searched for.
Another noteworthy change is that Spotify introduced a new "data saver" mode for its app that reportedly cuts data use by up to 75% when streaming music. This feature is available to all users, but it's particularly beneficial to free tier users who don't have the option of downloading songs for offline playback.
Each of these updates are currently being rolled out to all users of the Spotify app; it's unclear if an App Store update will be necessary, or if the changes will all be server-side.
Unlike Apple Music, which only exists as a paid service, Spotify has the challenge of balancing the features of its paid and free tiers in a way that satisfies free users, while simultaneously encouraging them to upgrade. Today's improvements seem to do a great job of that by leveraging one of Spotify's strengths over Apple Music – machine learning-powered personalized playlists. The deeper invested you are in teaching the service your likes and dislikes, the more likely you are to eventually become a paid Spotify user rather than jumping ship to Apple Music.