Spotify is best known as the most popular music streaming app out there, with 172 million subscribers. Although they have a free version of their service, only the premium membership allows users to access the full list of features. At first glance, it looks like Spotify Premium will mostly get you the ability to skip as many songs as you like, the complete discography of almost every established musician out there, as well as genre- and artist-specific playlists generated by the app that are available to all users — but there is actually a lot more to it than just that.
Once you purchase your subscription, you also get plenty of personalized playlists based on your listening habits as well as a few features unique to Spotify that are not typically associated with music streaming apps. What originally started as a service that allowed users unlimited access to music for a monthly or yearly payment now has a social side to it.
The most obvious “social” feature of Spotify is the ability to share links to songs. Hoping to showcase their taste in music, many people embed the links into Instagram stories or tweets. However, there are some limitations to this: Those without a Spotify account are unable to open them. Spotify does have a motive with this though, as they want to get more people to subscribe.
The ability to link songs is just the beginning when it comes to Spotify’s social features, however. Many now treat the app like any other social media platform, with people linking their profiles to personal websites the same way they do with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. A Spotify profile is obviously different from more explicitly social apps, because you can’t “post” anything. The only things that display on a profile are public playlists, follower count and the number of artists the user is following.
The fact that Spotify has a feature that allows playlists to be either public or private shows that they have a certain level of awareness as to how their platform gets used. Although the playlists cannot leave the app, by making them public, people do consent to letting other users access them. There is not a way for the playlist’s creator to see exactly who liked it or how many views it gets, which is why some people may opt to make theirs private.
Continuing on the topic of playlists, Spotify also gives users the option to make a collaborative playlist. There are two ways this can be done: One is to set the playlist so that anyone who wants to can add songs, and the other is to use the new Blend feature. However, the Blend feature is not as much about having complete control over what goes in the playlist as it is about combining the music tastes of two users. The link to this feature can be found under the Made for You category and works by making a playlist that contains the most listened-to songs from both users. Once the playlist is generated, it updates daily along with all the other personalized playlists in the Made For You sections, such as Daily Mixes, On Repeat and Repeat Rewind.
The Made For You category is also home to Spotify’s most famous feature, the yearly Wrapped, which summarizes a user’s listening habits over the past 11 months. Some may wonder how this relates to the social side of Spotify, and the answer is that it mimics the format of the Instagram story. This “story” contains all your listening statistics in one place: top artist, top songs, number of minutes spent listening, number of genres discovered, as well as how many artists were listened to. It is also shareable to other social media, which is what ultimately makes Spotify Wrapped such a big deal. Sharing the slide that shows top five artists and songs turned into one of those big Instagram trends once again at the end of 2021, often accompanied by a sticker that said “Share your Spotify Wrapped.”
Ultimately, the social features are what draw customers to Spotify rather than other music streaming services like Pandora or Apple Music. It gives them a big advantage in the sense that it offers a unique listening experience that cannot be found anywhere else. After all, you don’t hear people asking their friends for links to their Apple Music playlists.