Analysis

Spotify is testing adding video to its curated playlists


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Spotify’s ambitions for original video content now include integrating those videos into its most popular playlists, judging by a test the streaming service is running in the US with its RapCaviar playlist.

American listeners to that playlist are now viewers too, with videos produced by Spotify now interspersed with its tracks on desktop and mobile.

One of Music Ally’s American team members spotted the revamped playlist, although it’s not yet available outside the US. The videos include interviews, freestyles, behind-the-scenes footage and full-length music videos, topped by a ‘The Rundown’ clip outlining this week’s content, and a ‘Coming Next Week’ clip trailing what’s on the way.

RapCaviar

The videos have been published to Spotify through its ‘Shows’ feature, but this is the first time we’ve seen this content included in a traditional playlist – with RapCaviar’s 5.9 million followers making it one of the most high-profile places to test such a feature. The last update promised “exclusive videos from Jidenna, producers Nez & Rio, and new music from Rick Ross”.

“We are always looking for new and exciting ways to enhance the Spotify experience for our users,” said a Spotify spokesperson when contacted by Music Ally. “We are testing a new format with Rap Caviar that incorporates video. This will be available to all users in the US only.”

RapCaviar test

People have been spotting the change and giving their opinion. “Very well designed and a great addition to the (already super solid) Spotify browse/discover experience,” wrote one contributor to a Product Hunt thread about the new format.

“It’s hideous,” complained a less-impressed user on Spotify’s support community. “It makes you re-download every song every time you visit the playlist… It plays videos scarily similar to ads, get rid of these or make a way to hide them for premium users.”

If the test becomes a fully-fledged feature, for example across other prominent Spotify playlists,it has the potential to play a role in a challenge cited by a growing number of music marketers: how to get fans to care about artists whose songs they’ve heard on a playlist.

“The idea of going beyond the playlist is so important. When you’re just looking at a line on a streaming service, there’s no interactivity there, and there’s no context there. There’s no story there… It’s harder than ever to go about creating that artist connection,” said The Orchard’s Lucy Blair at the by:Larm conference earlier this month.

caviar-mobile

Bringing together playlists and ‘shows’ could be a welcome step in the right direction on that count, although Spotify will be carefully monitoring the reaction from users to introducing video into what’s been an audio-only format thus far.

Video in playlists could also create opportunities for ads (or perhaps more relevantly, branded content) on Spotify’s free tier, if that could then be blocked for premium users.

Additional thought: for now this is something controlled by Spotify for its in-house playlists: labels wanting to get their artists interviewed will have to go through its original-content division. But what if Spotify could ultimately open up this feature to third parties?

Again, brands might be the obvious choice: think what someone like a Red Bull could do with a Spotify format that blends playlisting and video. But it could be just as applicable to media entities: Vice, Pitchfork, MTV…

Playlists with video could become Spotify’s equivalent to something like Snapchat Discover – but only if the company decides to go down that route, rather than reserving this format for its own curators.

Stuart Dredge

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4 responses
  • Watesh says:

    I believe this will be a welcome alternative to YouTube. YouTube has become so congested with content and sometimes you just want to binge watch music videos without having other non-music content being suggested to you.

  • Dwayne says:

    This could bring back the glory of watching MTV back in the day. Spotify on a TV through chromecast isn’t the most fun I’ve had…

  • ED NAVAS says:

    I experienced this today and I’m taken aback by how much this spoils the user experience. Today I was running with the rap caviar playlist, using it to keep me motivated along my long run, when a couple tracks in it goes to dialogue. I figured this was some weird 2chainz interlude so let it fly, then a couple songs later it does it again with different dialogue. i looked in the app to see what was going on, and its playing some documentary of 2chainz in a plastic surgeons office. Was not feeling it, had no way to turn the video feature off. I’m not saying video shouldn’t be in Spotify, but when I think of how I personally use Spotify curated playlists (I could be the anomaly) I’m no looking to watch video during the session and this implementation totally interrupts how I use the playlists

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