Skip to main content

Spotify’s secret Social Listening feature could create global listening parties

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though it’s still only available to company employees, Spotify appears to be working on a new feature called Social Listening, which lets friends collaborate on music queues and possibly listen to them together in real time. Spotted by app researcher Jane Manchung Wong, who detailed some of the feature’s inner workings on Twitter, Social Listening looks like Spotify’s existing Collaborative Playlists on steroids.

As the name implies, there’s a real social aspect to the feature. Those who choose to join in on your Social Listening invite will see your Spotify profile info, and you’ll be able to see theirs. Sending invites to join in can be done by sharing a dedicated URL via all of the usual means (texting, Facebook, etc.) but Spotify appears to have made in-person collaboration the main thrust of Social Listening, through the use of scannable QR-like codes.

If you and a friend are hanging out together, you can bring up a scannable code on your Spotify app that your friend then scans using their app. Once connected, participants can add tracks to a shared queue. In one of Wong’s screenshots, we can see text that says “now you can control the music together” though it’s not entirely clear if this control extends to being able to play/pause or skip tracks during the listening session.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

From what we can tell from the screenshots Wong shared, these Social Listening sessions are playback device-specific. If you have multiple Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speakers at home that you’re controlling via Spotify Connect, Social Listening is an option for each device. In theory, we suppose this means that every room in your house could be home to a different Social Listening session.

Nowhere in these screenshots does it say that the feature could be used to create synchronized listening sessions across multiple locations, or even across multiple speakers in the same location, but one can’t help but wonder if this might be a logical next step once Social Listening hits the general Spotify membership.

For that to happen, however, we imagine Spotify will have to work out a way to properly compensate artists for these new social streams. It’s one thing to assume that most listening is done on an individual basis, but when large groups become involved things could change from a licensing point of view.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
Spotify’s Car Thing music and podcast device could finally launch in 2021
spotify car thing in measurement voice controlled device test drive

In 2019, Spotify announced that it was starting to conduct "tests" of how people listen to music when in their cars by using a voice-controlled music and podcast device called "Car Thing." At the time, Spotify said that Car Thing testing would only be conducted in the U.S. with a small group of invited Spotify Premium users. The company was pretty clear that it had no plans to sell the Car Thing, and there have been no new details about the device or what Spotify may have learned from its testing.

But a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing spotted by The Verge shows a new version of the Car Thing, with a larger, smartphone-sized display, which could mean that Spotify is considering selling the device after all. The FCC lists it as a Bluetooth phone accessory, so one thing at least is clear: It's not designed to act as a stand-alone streaming music player with its own internet connection.

Read more
Spotify is looking to add a virtual concert feature
Woman using phone while listening to headphones

Spotify is reportedly testing out a virtual events feature that will connect you to concert livestreams directly within the app. 

Based on screenshots shared by security researcher Jane Manchun Wong on Tuesday, the new feature would list virtual events in a specific location and links to tune in. 

Read more
Spotify Wrapped gives a personalized look at who you listened to most in 2019
spotify wrapped most streamed artists tracks albums 2019

Later this week, Spotify will be unveiling its personalized Wrapped stats. It's a chance for Premium users to look back at the year that was and see which artists, songs, albums, genres, and podcasts captured their attention in 2019. Spotify has offered both a public and a personalized set of Wrapped stats in the past, but this year the company is expanding its view of the music and spoken-word world to an entire decade.

The Wrapped toolset, which also reveals facts like how many minutes of music you heard and how many songs you liked, has traditionally only been accessible via a custom website, making it a bit awkward to use. Last year, it required a bit of a hunt to find it. This year, however, Spotify is unlocking Wrapped's potential as a social sharing opportunity: The Wrapped experience will also be available within the Spotify app itself, and share cards will be available for you to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Read more