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Spotify wants to share your listening habits in real-time

If this feature releases, I’ll be the first person to disable it.

spotify logo on blurred background
Image: KnowTechie

Spotify is experimenting with a new feature called “Community,” which promises to let subscribers see what their friends are listening to in real-time through the mobile app. 

The feature — which is in early testing, but not yet formally released — will also notify users when their friends update playlists. 

Although Spotify has long offered similar functionality through its desktop experience with the Friend Activity feature, this has largely taken a back seat in recent years, as the company prioritized podcasts and its mobile app.

In 2019, Spotify rejected a user request to bring Friend Activity to its iOS and Android apps. The request — which appeared on its community forums — received 7,451 votes in favor, suggesting significant user interest. 

A stab at differentiation

Spotify’s earliest incarnations had a prominent social element. At the time, this made sense. Facebook and Twitter were the hottest digital properties.

Its biggest competition was Last.fm, which blurred the line between niche music social network and streaming service. 

As Spotify grew, its focus shifted. It emphasized personalization and exclusive content. It pivoted to podcasts, snapping up legendary studio Gimlet Media and buying the rights to The Joe Rogan Experience. 

So, what’s changed? Well, Spotify’s market-leading position is no longer certain. Apple Music and Amazon Music enjoy significant market share, commanding 13 percent and 15 percent respectively, according to analyst house MIDIA. Spotify’s share, if you’re curious, stands at 31 percent. 

By adding social functionality, Spotify can further differentiate its product from its rivals, without the need to spend big on platform-exclusive content. 

Take a sneak peak

Spotify is yet to formally launch Community. But, if you’re curious, you can get an early peek by typing “Spotify:Community” into Safari on your iOS device.

Credit goes to tech investor (and hashtag creator) Chris Messina, who noticed the feature in a major software update released earlier this month.

Music is fundamentally personal. I can’t be alone in my reluctance to share my listening habits with my Facebook friends, family, and casual acquaintances. When the feature eventually rolls out, I’ll be among the first to disable it.

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Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Past work can be found on The Register, Forbes, The Next Web, and Business Insider.

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