What to expect from the next-gen Spotify

Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek at SXSWi

Speaking at the recent South by South West conference, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek talked up the next-generation Spotify player, and said that the company was focussing on that ahead of a Spotify US launch.

While Spotify currently features recommendations and collaborative playlists, the company plans to introduce better social features to help users find new music and share it with their friends, Ek promises.

"We are looking at integrating some parts of the social aspect," he says. "If you think about the problem of how do you browse music – most people approach the problem by looking at genres. I could probably come up with 200 different genres, but I don't really know what 'neoclassical pop' is. What classifies neo-rock or neo-pop?

"Spotify is approaching 10 million tracks - how do you browse through 10 million tracks? Searching is one solution but it's not an optimum way of discovering new music. A social aspect is."

Spotify isn't planning to launch its own social network, though, says Ek, and instead plans to work with existing services such as Facebook and Twitter.

"We won't be another social network," stresses Ek. "We said very clearly from the start that we never believed in being our own social network. We want to work with existing social networks and piggyback on their functionality to share content.

"We are definitely going to do a lot more of that to drive discovery of music. You'll find ways to see what other people are listening to or to discover new playlists."

Napster inspiration

Ek points to the original Napster as a good example of music discovery. "That for me was awesome," he says. "Because what it enabled was that I could search for any artist or track and if the person had a quick connection I could browse their music to see what other stuff they were listening to. And then I could download all of that music. What we want to do with Spotify is get closer to that experience, but 10 years later."

Ek adds that it may be possible in the next-generation Spotify to set your Twitter or Facebook friends as the sole people who can edit your collaborative playlists. "We don't have a way of setting user privileges on playlists," says Ek. "And this is why we don't want to be a social network – we think that Twitter and Facebook will figure out those kind of privileges and we can borrow those."

So if you share a playlist on Facebook, for example, you'll also be able to set which of your Facebook friends can edit playlists, who can add or remove tracks and who can only listen, explains Ek.

Global Editor-in-Chief

After watching War Games and Tron more times that is healthy, Paul (Twitter, Google+) took his first steps online via a BBC Micro and acoustic coupler back in 1985, and has been finding excuses to spend the day online ever since. This includes roles editing .net magazine, launching the Official Windows Magazine, and now as Global EiC of TechRadar.