/ 13 March 2023

Spotify overhauls app. Now it’s like TikTok, Instagram Stories mash-up

Spotify has announced changes to its app and user experience, with a focus on creators.

Spotify has announced changes to its app and user experience, with a focus on creators. 

The updates unveiled at Spotify’s recent annual Stream On event include a home feed with music, podcasts and shows and audiobooks sections, as well as a smart shuffle for new recommendations and auto playing for podcasts.

The revamped feed is no longer static and looks like TikTok mashed up with Instagram Stories. South Africa does not have access to audiobooks; it is only available in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

The multimedia-heavy feed uses more data by automatically playing videos from the home page and, as if IG stories were embedded in the feed, lets you scroll tracks vertically from the carousel. It includes podcast recommendations that previews a snippet. 

The app is redesigned to keep users engaged in different ways, much like TikTok, so you stay on for longer discovering new content. It does feel busy with constant videos playing on the feed, although snippets of audio from podcasts should help with finding new shows.

The new feed combines insights from users and creators globally with its machine learning tools to create a feature that is automatic for creators and intuitive for users, said Gustav Söderström, co-president and chief product and technology officer at Spotify.

“Spotify is the first platform to enable truly seamless previews across music, podcasts, and audio. Listeners will now be able to see and hear short clips powered by machine learning, right in the home feed, making it much easier for them to discover the content that we think they’ll love,” he said.

Thanks to the new feed of visual clips, users can scroll through music, podcasts, and audiobook previews (in supported markets) until they find something they like, said Ziad Sultan, the vice-president of personalisation at Spotify. With a quick tap, users can start listening, save to the library or discover more about the artist, series or creator.

From a creator perspective, Spotify is hoping to draw in more podcasters through hosting platform Anchor that it acquired back in 2019.

The recent launch in the US and Canada of DJ, a personalised artificial intelligence guide, is an example of how the company is building on that innovation by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in a new way, Sultan said.

“DJ was created using the combination of Spotify’s personalisation technology, which gives you a line-up of music recommendations based on what we know you like; generative AI in the hands of music editors; and a dynamic AI voice platform from our 2022 Sonantic acquisition, that brings to life stunningly realistic voices from text,” he said.

The company is improving the podcast section through personalisation, the same way it helped with music discovery. 

“Our personalisation efforts have helped music discovery evolve significantly over the past years and we’re very focused to do the same for podcast creators by driving discovery, delivering listeners the right content at the right time, and accelerating growth of the category worldwide,” Sultan said.

From a creator perspective, Spotify is hoping to draw in more podcasters through hosting platform Anchor that it acquired back in 2019. It offers an all-in-one solution to create and grow a podcast in the Spotify for Podcasters app. 

It also announced a partnership with Patreon, a membership platform that lets individuals run their own subscription service, which now incorporates podcasts from Spotify.

The company says podcasters will be able to publish patron-only content on Spotify, and patrons will be able to link their Patreon account to their Spotify account to access their Patreon-exclusive podcasts right where they’re already listening to all their audio content.

Last year,  Spotify announced the Africa Podcast Fund and chose four South Africans who earned a share from the $100 000 grant pool. 

Spotify Africa’s managing director, Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, says at Stream On, its re-envisioned Spotify for Podcasters, brings together the best of Spotify’s creator tools into a one-stop shop to create, manage, grow and monetise podcast content.

“Mpoomy Ledwaba (Wisdom and Wellness), for instance, just hosted her highly successful Unlimited event, in partnership with Spotify. The team also worked with Gugulethu Nyatsumba (After School is After School with Sis Gu) on her first podcast live event,” she said.

“This is a year-long programme, and our aim is to not only fund these creators but elevate their platforms and allow them to grow their audiences.”

The new updates to the Spotify app are being rolled out globally, with the audiobooks feature available in select markets.