Up until June of 2017, I had always used iTunes / Apple Music. It was all I knew. I went through various iPod models, transferring music from my laptop to my iPod, making new playlists as I went along. I knew what Spotify was but never paid much attention to it. Honestly, at that time, there wasn’t any other streaming service on my radar. I thought I would use iTunes forever, and that was perfectly fine with me.
That June, a friend shared a playlist that I desperately wanted to listen to. This playlist was filled with dozens of new artists that I hadn’t heard of. Finding them all on Apple Music was just not going to happen. So, I took the plunge. I downloaded Spotify and it was game over. I immediately was immersed in a world of new features, all just on the free version. After trying it out for about a month, I decided to pay for Spotify Premium. Since then, I never looked back. This was a decision that I wish I made much sooner.
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Spotify, in my opinion, has the best user experience out there today. They are absolutely nailing it in every single way. Today, I am going to detail some of my favorite features the platform has, as well as outline the other considerations that have led me to this bold claim. So all you music lovers, join me and let’s take a moment to go over Spotify and all it has to offer – which is a lot.
User Experience 101
User experience is something that marketers talk about quite frequently. So much so that we have written a Start to Finish post talking about user experience, and why it matters! In this post, Brandon defines UX and what it is, as well as why it matters to businesses. User experience design, or UX design, is a relatively new concept. Think of it as an emotional version of ergonomics.
User experience is defined on Wikipedia as “a person’s emotions or attitudes about using a product, system, or service. It includes practical, experiential, affective, meaningful, and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use, and efficiency.”
That’s a dense definition, but UX is really important to understand. We know that consumers make decisions based on how products or services make them feel. That means that understanding UX design principles is as crucial to providing good customer experience as customer service was in the twentieth century.
Spotify might have the best user experience of any streaming service that I have ever seen. They do an incredible job of making their platform not just easy to use but providing features that make you want to use it over the competition. If it isn’t clear how much I love Spotify, don’t worry.
For the remainder of this post, I am going to talk about the best features Spotify has to offer. Spotify’s user experience is a really good one because they are exceptional at understanding and anticipating their users needs. This will become really clear when we talk about Spotify’s custom-made playlists, but first, let’s cover the basics.
Spotify In a Nutshell
Spotify is an all-in-one streaming platform where you can listen to all of your favorite music, podcasts, or videos. They currently list over 50 million songs, as well as over 700,000 podcast titles. Reportedly, 40,000 new songs are added to the platform every day. If that statistic wasn’t enough for you, consider the following.
Reportedly, there are 286 million active Spotify users. Of those 286 million users, 130 million of them subscribe to Spotify premium. This is up from 271 monthly active Spotify users and 124 million Spotify Premium subscribers in Q4 2019.
Year-on-year, Spotify sees a 69 million increase in users (32%), and a 30 million increase in subscribers (30%). Plus, this growth rate has been fairly consistent over recent years. In other words, a lot of people love Spotify. This too can be backed back by an interesting statistic, 44% of users listen to Spotify daily. Long story short, Spotify is doing something right.
Spotify as a Service
Spotify has two main components to its service, free streaming, and Spotify premium. According to Spotify, some of the main draws to go premium include downloading music, no ad interruptions, play any song, and unlimited skips. While it might not seem like a lot, I assure you, going premium has many benefits that will serve any music lover well. Want to know the best part? They have several different premium options available to choose from.
Spotify offers four different premium options for you to choose from, ranging from $4.99 a month to $15.99 a month for the biggest family plan allowing up to six accounts. All of these accounts offer the same standard premium features while throwing in their own features per plan.
Let’s take a look specifically at Spotify Duo, one of their newest plans available. $12.99 a month, two premium accounts for a couple under one roof, ad-free music in addition to the other features, as well as offering a duo mix. Spotify notes this as a playlist for two, regularly updated with music you both enjoy. I look at this as Spotify adapting to their current market and creating a new option, specifically designed for a niche group of people. Or for the sake of this post, they are showing unrivaled user experience for a variety of people looking for different things out of a platform.
My 3 Favorite Spotify Features
Now that you understand the scope of Spotify and all it has to offer, it is time to jump into what this post is about… Taking the time to appreciate Spotify for all it is and the amazing features that have led me to claim that Spotify is the best streaming platform, as well as the platform with the best user experience. Before I highlight all of the features and options that make Spotify, I am going to give you my three favorite features.
1. Spotify’s Daily Mixes
This is easily one of the best features Spotify has to offer, and the feature I use more than any other. The Daily Mix is a set of up to six pre-mixed playlists inspired by our users’ favorite music. It can be found in “Your Library” on desktop or premium mobile, the radio tab on premium mobile, or the home screen for users of the new free app experience.
In the words of Spotify, “Daily Mix was designed to provide familiar, comfortable music within each of the user’s top listening modes. It’s designed to be the shortest path to a good musical experience. It reflects how the user listens, rather than matching their favorite music against predefined genres. We use clustering technology to identify distinct subgroupings within our users’ listening patterns, and then build recommendations around those, mixing in appropriate new suggestions along with the known favorites.”
Each of my daily mixes provides a unique listening experience my favorite songs are seamlessly blended in with new music. I am CONSTANTLY on the hunt for new music that is in the genre or category that I am in the mood for. Daily mixes allow me to enjoy music that I love while discovering new tracks.
2. Year in Review
Spotify’s Year In Review / Spotify Wrapped is hands down in my opinion the best feature the platform offers. “Spotify Wrapped is a specially crafted site that collects your listening history and spits out a visual overview of your habits, taste in music, and other interesting tidbits that you’d only know if you somehow managed to obsessively track everything that went in your ears. The results include bespoke insights into your most-listened-to artists, songs, playlists, podcasts, and genres.” In other words, want an honest look at what you spent the most time listening to? This is where you find it.
Every year, I eagerly await my Year in Review to come out, so I can geek out over music that mattered to me throughout the year. Here’s a screenshot of my 2019 Year in Review.
This is essentially what the main page of the Year In Review looks like. It lists your top five artists and songs of the year, as well as giving you total minutes listened to, and your top genre. As you can see from my ear In Review, I listen to quite a bit of indie music.
What you do not see from this, is the six other pages outlining my: top new artists discovered, my number one artist, how many hours I spent listening to them, how many new artists you have discovered, as well as tracking data on the minutes you’ve spent listening to music. Music is one of the most important parts of my life. Honestly, being able to see stuff like this is really damn cool. Kudos to you Spotify, you absolutely nail it with this feature.
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3. Radio Stations from ANYTHING
That brings me to one of the most overlooked features on Spotify. You can create radio stations from literally any song, album, artist, or even playlist. In the words of “Guido”, a “Spotify legend”, “Radio is a feature that lets Spotify continuously serve you with tracks based on any Artist or Playlist you wish. For example, you’re not really sure what to listen to specifically but you know in what mood you are. Simply select an Artist or Playlist which represents this mood best and start the Radio from there!”
Guido does a good job of describing what radio stations are and what they represent. For me, I use radio stations when I am feeling indecisive. When I am listening to a particular song that I am really jamming to, oftentimes, I want more music to play that is similar to this. This not only puts a mix of music that fits the mood but helps me to discover new artists at the same time. Once again, another incredible feature that exemplifies Spotify’s great user experience.
Music Discovery with Spotify
Daily mixes are not the only method for discovering new music. They’re not even the primary way, in fact!
Spotify offers a Discover Weekly playlist full of music that fits your listening patterns that you have never heard of. Every Monday, Discover Weekly gifts 200 million Spotify users with a playlist of thirty songs they’ve never heard before. Any and every music lover that I personally know utilizes this feature to find new bands, and push their own library of music into new territories.
Personally Curated Playlists by Spotify
Uniquely Yours goes hand in hand with the year in review and works to create playlists based on the most listened to songs of particular years. This feature allows me to go back to 2017 and listen to the music that was mostly played for me then.
In addition to yearly playlists, they go as far as to include playlists such as “On Repeat”, “Repeat Rewind”, and “Time Capsule”. On repeat serves as exactly what it sounds like – the songs that you can’t get enough of at that time. The thirty or so songs that you play “on repeat”. Repeat rewind follows this same trend, but only for songs that you used to play on repeat.
Time Capsule is a playlist of songs designed to take you back in time to the music you once loved but maybe have forgotten about. All of these features work in tandem with the other available features to create one of the most complete streaming platforms that you could hope for.
Having a Halloween party soon? What about a Christmas party in a few months? Well, surprise surprise, Spotify has playlists curated specifically for that, and about a million other events, you could have.
If music discovery isn’t your cup of tea, they have playlists premade to fit the mood, event, or even workout. This is great for those people who might not want to bother making their own playlists but want to have something to play when you go exercise. Spotify has all of your bases covered.
Thought We Were Done?
Spotify has one of the best interfaces out there when it comes to podcasts. When you go to the search tab on the homepage, you immediately see a “Podcast” box. When you go to this page, you go into their vast podcast library where you can find any possible podcast you could hope for. Yep, as of September 1st, 2020, that includes one of the biggest podcasts on the planet, The Joe Rogan Experience. This news was crazy to hear, partly due to the $100 million he took home from the deal.
Another incredible feature Spotify has is the “Behind the Lyrics” feature. This partnership with Genius, allows listeners to have instant access to lyrics, custom album animations made by the artist, as well as feedback from the band or artist’s – giving you a deeper insight into your favorite songs.
Spotify offers something called “Spotify Singles”, which are recordings by artists specifically for Spotify. Wikipedia states, “Spotify Singles is a series of original songs and covers by artists, recorded in various Spotify studios and released for streaming only that started in 2016. Spotify pays for recording, mixing and mastering the session. In 2018, Spotify announced that Spotify Singles had accumulated a combined total of 1 billion streams.” This is a crazy statistic by itself. Through this platform, it gives artists a chance to release unique content, while giving fans a glimpse of maybe a different sound than they are used to.
All of these features add up nicely into a complete package that is Spotify. The experience that I have had while using Spotify has caused me to love music even more, which I didn’t even know was possible.
The purpose of this post is to show you that user experience design isn’t just something you read about in a textbook. You can see it in action when you use Spotify. Through the seamless interface, to the countless features they have integrated throughout the platform, I wouldn’t want to listen to music on any other platform.