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Spotify’s new In Residence feature takes on Apple’s Beats 1 radio

spotify adds new in residence feature event
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Spotify has set its sights on beating Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio at its own game, launching a new set of radio-style playlists featuring celebrity curation and commentary. The company is calling the new feature In Residence.

However, while there are some similarities, Spotify’s new foray into the radio world is a different animal than Beats 1. More of a podcast than a radio station, all of the songs and commentary on In Residence are pre-recorded, trading the live broadcasts of Beats 1 for shows that are available to stream from any point, beginning to end.

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Four playlists launched today, with UK-based curators that include the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, grime MC Big Narstie, modern soul band Jungle, and electronic duo Tonga. The playlists generally showcase music inside of the curators’ own genres, but there are occasional exceptions. Who knew, for example, that a member of the Sex Pistols would be a fan of Tame Impala?

As far as business, it’s a smart move for the service, even if In Residence did only launch with a limited number of curators — none of whom are very big names.

Apple Music’s Beats 1 has been one of the more successful features to launch with the company’s nascent music service. Former BBC Radio 1 host Zane Lowe curates the Internet radio station, which is available live in over 100 countries from three broadcast bases, including LA, London, and NYC. Since its June launch, Beats 1 Radio has had such hosts as Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Pharrell Williams, Drake, Dr. Dre, and St. Vincent, among others.

Spotify’s version may not have many big names yet, but by making its version podcast-formatted, Spotify differentiates its radio-style playlists from Beats 1 in a significant enough way to make the new feature interesting; it allows users to simply see what their favorite musicians are listening to and then immediately hear it, instead of having to wait around to hear songs go by live as they would on Beats 1.

Still, the service is by no means a Beats 1 killer yet. In Residence only has 700 total followers as of the time of publication of this article.

For now, it’s a fun new feature to explore on Spotify — one in a series of new features the company is creating to more actively engage users and, hopefully, compel them to purchase a subscription.