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Spotify is pivoting toward short-form video content

Music streaming platform Spotify has announced a newly designed user interface that prioritises short-form video and quick preview snippets. It is the latest app to follow TikTok’s design model.

Spotify is rolling out a new user interface that focuses on short-form video content.

Previous iterations of the app displayed albums, songs, podcasts, and playlists as stacked tiles fixed to your home screen. The updated interface will instead offer an endless, vertical feed of short clips and recommendations that can be scrolled through indefinitely. It looks very similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels.

Podcasts and playlists will preview alongside an accompanying video, and content will be tailored to each user by ‘advanced machine learning’.

In addition to the interface changes, Spotify says creators will now be able to upload visual content without using its anchor hosting service. A new discovery feed, hashtags, smart shuffle, and a previously announced smart DJ service will also be introduced over the next few updates.

Online, the announcement has been divisive. While some are eager to see new, novel concepts introduced to Spotify’s traditionalist layout, others are expressing discontent at the gradual dominance of short-form, bitesize video content over every other medium.

The company says it is making these changes to better help artists and podcast creators find new audiences.

Based on TikTok’s sizeable influence over chart music, reviews and clips pushed to listeners in an indefinite feed will likely help improve engagement on otherwise unknown tracks.

Spotify is also no doubt trying to keep up with changing user experiences across all media platforms. TikTok’s explosion in popularity – and it’s hold on Gen Z specifically – has caused a pivot away from long-form media. Most apps understand that quick, immediate video content is the way forward.

We’ve seen this trend creep onto Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and even Netflix, as various platforms scramble to retain their core users and compete with TikTok’s extremely impressive and competitive retention numbers.

Spotify will want a piece of the short-form video pie, despite largely being an audio-focused service.

This is partly why it was so keen to stress its ‘advanced’ algorithms and AI-based recommendation systems during yesterday’s initial reveal. It wants to make clear that video content on its mobile app will be able to compete with TikTok’s robust algorithm.

It is currently impossible to say whether these changes will be a long-term net positive.

An emphasis on video, new artists, and fresh podcasts is likely to be a hit with consumers, especially Gen Zers that gravitate toward speedy, quick content. Any changes that promote a more streamlined experience are welcome.

However, a more visually demanding app experience will cause extra stress for musicians.

Streaming has already made the market an overly saturated, hyper competitive space. It is very hard to keep a consistent audience beyond a rare viral hit and even if you do so, you’ll likely be paid little.

To ask creatives for music, accompanying visuals, album artwork, song descriptions, and more will be a tough process for independent or low budget acts looking to be selected by Spotify’s playlists and suggested feeds. This new design is likely to push music even further into the realm of ‘content’ as opposed to simple artistry.

There is an argument to be made that Spotify’s latest changes are placing extra pressure onto bands and artists, who are now expected to provide everything themselves in the hopes of a few pennies from their streams.

We will have to see how things are shaken up once the new interface rolls out for everyone.


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