Spotify is testing a new feature that will enable listeners to ‘pre-save’ albums in the weeks before they are released.
Its first test launched yesterday with British artist Florence + The Machine, ahead of the 13 May release of their new album ‘Dance Fever’ through Republic Records.
The feature works with a ‘pre-save’ button on the artist’s Spotify profile, which they will also be able to promote to fans with a direct link.
A dedicated page will include a clock counting down to the release; album artwork; a preview of the tracklisting – with tracks playable if they have been released already and greyed out if not; and short videos created by the artist using Spotify’s ‘Clips’ format.
When the album is released, fans who have pre-saved it will be sent an alert that it’s now available to listen to. For now, the test is only available in Spotify’s iOS app, although it will soon expand to Android. It is not yet available on its desktop app.
Spotify told Music Ally that Florence + The Machine’s album is the first test, but that more will follow soon. However, the company is stressing the experimental nature of the feature.
“Spotify is testing a new pre-release experience. We routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve artist and fan experiences,” said the spokesperson. “Some of those tests end up paving the way for a broader experience and others serve only as an important learning.”
Spotify pre-saves aren’t a new thing: labels and artist teams have been running them for years. What’s new is Spotify offering this as an on-platform feature.
Until now, those teams have had to build their own sites that tap Spotify’s API by connecting fans’ accounts so that albums can be automatically added to their libraries and playlists when they come out.
The first example of this was in November 2016, with a Spotify pre-save campaign for Laura Marling’s ‘Semper Femina’ album devised by Kobalt’s David Emery (now at Apple Music) and Patrick Ross (now at Music Ally).
It has since become a common part of artist marketing strategies. By bringing the idea in-house, Spotify is playing catchup to Apple Music, which introduced on-platform ‘pre-adds’ in 2018.
One advantage for labels and artist teams in running their own external pre-save campaigns is that they get more data: for example they can ask fans to enter their email addresses to be added to mailing lists.
Spotify has not said what kind of data those teams will get from its new pre-save feature. Our expectation would be that email addresses are unlikely to be part of it.
Then again… Spotify recently announced that podcasters using its show-level subscriptions feature will also be able to “download a list of contact addresses for their subscribers so they can further engage with their subscriber bases and offer even more benefits”.
Imagine if it applied similar thinking to the album pre-saves feature if and when it expands beyond a test, with an optional email signup alongside the countdown clock, album artwork and clips on the pre-save page?
Spotify told Music Ally that pre-saves have been a long-standing feature request from its industry partners, so their feedback will also influence how the new feature develops – including what level of data is shared, and what they can put on the pre-save page.