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Spotify from a Community Perspective

Spotify HQ Logo by Jon Åslund

If  you love music, there’s no way around Spotify. But like the 2006 version of Youtube isn’t comparable with the current Youtube, Spotify won’t be the same in a year or two. Let me show you how I think Spotify will position itself on the social/music spectrum in the coming months or years.

As most of the websites and webservices that are created the last few years, Spotify is social site. That just means that it gets better if you have some friends who also use it. But this simply observation is fundamental to improve on Spotify since we have to look at ways to improve on the social aspect of the service, since they got the core functionality (streaming music) alread nailed.

Social Objects

Every popular social site has one or more social object. These are objects which are central to the experience of that site and which you can share somehow, often via a URL. On Facebook the social objects are profilepages and fanpages. Youtube uses video’s and profilepages as social objects. Twitter uses profilepages and tweets. More on Social objects on Andy Roberts blog, Hugh McLeods blog)

What are the social objects of Spotify? Hint: It’s not music.

It’s lists of music (playlists) and people who make, collect and share cool playlists. And boy, is it difficult to act on those objects! It is very hard to find other people on Spotify (other than importing your friends from Facebook) and only via these people can you discover new playlists. You can’t even search for playlists or users!

At least they made it possible to link to both user and playlist on their website so (lots of!) other people can figure out a way to improve on discovering interesting playlists and people who who make, collect and share these playlists. Sure, Spotify still collects the monthly fee ($5 – $10) so it seams like it’s all good but what if a site similar to Spotify comes along? Exporting your playlists isn’t that hard, so if this site offers something better (all the music Spotify has plus Bob Dylan/Beatles) people are leaving without too much exit costs. Everybody knows that discussions, comments, likes, etc. are a different thing to export.

Where should Spotify now focus on?

With competitors starting their engines, the first mover advantage isn’t really securing Spotify’s future since people don’t have much exit costs. There’s hardly any lock-in. That’s a good thing for consumers obviously, but making Spotify better and thus harder to leave should still be top-priority and hard to argue against. Because Spotify lacks so much basic ways to act on a social object, they should start there.

What do I mean?

First: Spotify should make searching for playlists and users waaaay easier. Don’t do anything else before you’ve fixed that!

Next, think about what users want to do with playlists and other users.

  • What about discussing a playlist with other subscribers?
  • What about voting on songs that should be in or taken out of that playlists?
  • What about annotating playlists so people can see what you want to share and make notes about what songs are still missing from Spotifys library but should be included?
  • What about making folders of playlists?
  • What about chatting with somebody

That’s just from the top of my mind, what else should Spotify improve in interacting with playlists and users?