What to expect from the next-gen Spotify

Spotify devices

Developers now have "endless opportunities" to make software available to people, says Ek.

"Only three years ago, you didn't have the iPhone, you didn't have the Android platform. If you wanted to develop for mobile at all, you had to at least support four or five major OSes. You had to customise your software for at least 50 or 60 handset models. The lead time to get it on to a phone in any sort of meaningful way was between six to 12 models.

"Innovation on handsets has enabled people, like Spotify, to get their software on phones, through Android and so on."

Ek goes on to explain that Spotify is looking to be on many different devices. "With the exception of the iPhone today, most of the other handset manufacturers lack really good media players," he says. "We are seeing that people tend to use Spotify as a media player on Android handsets. It's been historically cumbersome to get music on to a BlackBerry or a Nokia and that is something that we want to sort out."

Ek continues: "If you look at the traditional way of buying music – it still works. People are buying music that they love but the vast majority of people just want access. They want to share music with their friends. Why shouldn't you be able to consume music on your BlackBerry if you pay for it?

"We want to enable your library on all these devices. Whether it is a set-top box, whether it's an Xbox or a mobile phone - that doesn't really matter for us. We want to make music like water."

Better ad targeting

Isn't it annoying when you're listening to down-tempo music and it's interrupted with a noisy, shouty ad? That will change, says Ek, as Spotify ads become filtered by mood, music genre and more.

"That's definitely something that we want to do," says Ek. "We want to figure out a lot of things, and I think we can figure out a lot of things based on how people listen. But I also think that you can figure out brand preferences.

"For instance, if you and I are the same demographic, we live in the same place and we listen to the same music, and if we [Spotify] try an Audi ad on you we might get one result and if we try BMW we might get another. What's the likelihood of me having the same reaction [as you]? What has turned out is that it's quite high. So that's something that we are pursuing and that's very interesting for the advertisers."

Spotify US launch

It was widely expected that the reason Ek was given a keynote presentation at SXSWi was because Spotify was going to announce its US launch.

As Ek revealed at South by South West when questioned about the US launch, "the most important thing for a US launch is we want to build the best possible product we can get – we have to strike deals with 5,000 publishers or more and that's a huge task".

Ek adds: "A big thing for us now is working on the next-generation Spotify. That's the main priority before the US launch."

All this talk about next-gen Spotify and a US launch in the same breath points to one thing – assuming the label deals are hammered out, there will be a Spotify US launch in the near future. We're betting within the next three to six months.


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.