The new features announced by music service Spotify on Thursday constitute its biggest and best product upgrade since launch, plugging its worst, most lingering hole with exciting aplomb after several unimpressive attempts.
But, whilst the new functionality helps solve Spotify’s music discovery problem with features familiar to “social” platform users (and executes an enhanced version of iTunes’ recently-retired Ping service more effectively), they are actually a concession to the reality that taste-makers, not our friends, better inform our music listening.
At Spotify’s New York event, co-founder Daniel Ek confessed to one of the service’s most frequent criticisms: “Spotify is great when you know what music you want to listen to – but not so much when you don’t.”
To solve that, Spotify will suggest music to listeners from recommendations based on what they have previously listened to and from artists and others who users choose to “follow”.
But, whereas Spotify has already tried connecting people to music via Facebook’s social graph and via their Spotify friends, this time it is a little different.
On Thursday, Ek acknowledged: “Social has always been a very big part of what we do at Spotify. But finding people who can introduce you to music you care about has been hard. There are only a handful of people who are expert curators of music.”
So Ek trumpeted new beacons of new music – “journalists, trendsetters and artists” themselves — “not just your friends but really anyone on the music graph”.